I have reluctantly accepted the resignation of Jo Foster and Hannah Fry from the Science Museum Group’s Board of Trustees. On behalf of the Board, I’d like to thank Hannah and Jo for their significant and valued contributions as Trustees. We fully respect their decision to step down, which reflects views they expressed during recent Board discussions on accepting sponsorship from Adani Green Energy, and they will both remain critical friends of the Science Museum Group.
Solutions begin with difficult conversations, among friends, in individual organisations and on the world stage. Differences exist but we agree on so much, including the shared hope that the outcome of the COP26 talks getting underway in Scotland will be a new global consensus to act more urgently to address the existential threat of climate change.
Nothing short of an energy revolution is required to replace fossil fuels with renewables, as a new gallery at the Science Museum will explore. Governments need to do more to drive forward regulatory frameworks that help green tech to prosper and make fossil fuels less attractive options.
But the big energy companies, whose fossil fuel products power so much of the global economy today with all its impacts on climate, also have a responsibility to show more leadership in speeding up that transition to low-carbon energy sources such as blue and green hydrogen, solar, wind and nuclear, and smarter and more sustainable storage and distribution of electrical power.
Given the enormous expertise and wealth tied up in those energy companies, they need to play a much bigger role in urgent change to prevent a climate catastrophe. This potential explains the position taken by the Science Museum Group over the past decade that it would be counter-productive to rule out engaging with the entire sector; sponsorship decisions are made on individual companies, but with so much at stake there will continue to be robust internal discussion about where to draw the line.
In the meantime, we need to work harder to engage everyone, including those who disagree with our position, on this vital topic. I am passionate in my belief that our museum group has an important role to play in bringing the science of climate change to life and exploring how science and innovation, which has created the problem, can also provide solutions that, alongside the rapid shift away from fossil fuels, are a genuine cause for hope.
I am proud of the dedication of colleagues across our Group whose passion and expertise ignites the curiosity of millions of visitors each year. This half term, tens of thousands of visitors to the Science Museum have been inspired to think more about climate change and what can be done to address it through engagement with two current exhibitions, Our Future Planet and Amazônia. And each day of COP26, our five museums will share episodes of our Climate Talks series, which features more than 50 global leaders, experts, activists and campaigners discussing how to tackle the problems facing communities around the world due to climate change.
We must never underestimate the challenge. The Science Museum Group’s view – based on the science – is that, while it is grave and pressing, it is not yet insurmountable.