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Toxic Bonds call on Science Museum to drop Adani sponsorship

The Toxic Bonds along with 13 other campaigns and organisations wrote a letter to the Science Museum Group calling on them to immediately stop accepting sponsorship from Adani Green Energy.

The letter includes details on the interdependent relationship between Adani Group companies and highlights recent pertinent information which indicate investments in Adani Green Energy have been used to fund the company’s coal expansion plans.

The Science Museum Group’s defence of Adani sponsorship centres on the argument that Adani Green Energy is not responsible for the coal mining activities of its parent company Adani Group. However, the allegations published by Hindenburg Research on 25 January – alleging “one of the largest corporate frauds in history” – should undermine any confidence the Science Museum Group may have that investments in Adani Green Energy are adequately ring-fenced.

The Science Museum Group’s sustainability policy asks partners to achieve Level 4 on the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) tool TPI Management Quality index link by the end of March 2023. Adani Enterprises, the only part of the Adani Group assessed by the tool, scores only one. Adani Green Energy was a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises until June 2017, with this status changing when Adani Enterprises’ stake was reduced to below 50%, but, as described above, the businesses remain intricately linked.

When Trustees were informed of the proposed Adani Green sponsorship, they were told that, although Adani Green Energy was yet to be rated by TPI, “we might take some comfort from the recent investment by TotalEnergies, which is rated 4* on the TPI (the highest grade).” In fact, TotalEnergies have put their partnership with Adani on hold in the wake of the Hindenburg research. Furthermore, the recent research note for investors by Anthropocene Fixed-Income Institute notes that: TotalEnergies’ stake in Adani Green “forms part of the capital stack that is now being used as collateral to enable State Bank of India to provide credit for the buildout of Carmichael, a greenfield thermal coal mine that has been called “the world’s most insane energy project”.

Other critics have also come out against the sponsorship deal. Bob Watson, a professor at the University of East Anglia, a former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the former chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, says the sponsorship deal is “reprehensible”. “It is totally inappropriate for the Science Museum to highlight the role of Adani Green Energy without highlighting the role of Adani in being a major contributor to human-induced climate change due to its vast fossil fuel activities,” he says. “So, whether Adani Green Energy funds are co-mingled with Adani’s coal mine investments or not, the Science Museum should not be involved with the Adani Group. If the funds are co-mingled, then there is even more reason to end any co-sponsorship between the Science Museum and Adani.”

He also raises concerns that the links to Adani have hurt the Science Museum’s credibility. “In my opinion, the reputation and credibility of the Science Museum is already severely damaged and can only get worse if it does not sever ties with Adani immediately,” he says. “The role of a museum is to show all the facts. This sponsorship with the Adani Green Energy Group does not show the whole picture; therefore, there is a lack of transparency—in fact, a distortion of the facts. Thus, in my opinion, it will hurt future fundraising activities.”

In response, a Science Museum Group spokesperson said, “Adani Green Energy is the title sponsor of a landmark new Energy Revolution gallery at the Science Museum, which will examine how the world can undergo the fastest energy transition in history. The gallery will explore the latest climate science and the energy revolution needed to cut global dependence on fossil fuels.”

The Science Museum has also signed a second sponsorship contract with the Norwegian oil and gas company Equinor for the Wonderlab exhibition. The deal contains a gagging clause requiring the museum does not “discredit or damage the goodwill or reputation” of Equinor. In response, a spokesperson for the Science Museum Group said: “The Science Museum Group achieves public good for a wide and diverse audience of many millions with the sponsorship it receives. Engaging people with humanity’s greatest challenge—the fight against devastating climate change—is a major priority for our museums alongside reducing the impact of our own activity as we work towards achieving net zero by 2033. At all times, the Science Museum retains editorial control of the content within our exhibitions and galleries, and this is asserted clearly and unambiguously in all contracts we sign.”

The letter was signed by

ToxicBonds, Adfree Cities, Ansvarlig Fremtid, Bank on our Future, CELIOS (Center of Economic and Law Studies), Concerned Health Professionals of Pennsylvania, Environics Trust, Reclaim Finance, ReCommon, Students Organising for Sustainability UK, TIAA-Divest!, Uplift, Urgewald

Adani Equinor
Download Letter