Thanks again to Arthur for this heads-up on BP petition from 38Degrees.org
The British Museum, The National Portrait Gallery, The Royal Opera House and The Royal Shakespeare Company are sponsored by the climate-wrecking oil giant BP. The arts are supposed to help us understand and explore important issues like climate change. Instead, these institutions are promoting a company that is making the problem worse. BP is one of the companies most responsible for the climate crisis. It is the 11th biggest corporate source of greenhouse emissions in history. 97% of BP’s business is still in oil and gas extraction, with just 3% of its investments going into renewables. The company spends tens of millions every year lobbying to stop new climate laws and slow down the growth of cleaner energy, and plans to invest £41 billion into new oil projects over the next 10 years.
While BP rakes in huge profits, people around the world – especially those least responsible for the crisis in the Global South – are being hit by devastating droughts, floods and storms. BP also has close relationships with repressive governments around the world, who crack down hard on opposition to the company’s operations.
By signing a sponsorship deal with BP, these four big arts institutions are helping the oil company get away with this behaviour, giving it a mask of respectability to hide its true actions.
Under the current deal, the British Museum puts on a major BP-branded exhibition every year; the National Portrait Gallery holds the globally-famous BP Portrait Awards; the Royal Opera House holds “BP Big Screens” in public squares around the country; and the Royal Shakespeare Company has put BP branding on its discount tickets for 16-25 year olds.
These institutions only receive between 0.5% and 1.3% of their annual income from BP. In return, the oil company gets to cover up its real activities and present itself as a normal and respectable part of society, rather than a company that is actively worsening the climate crisis. BP also gets to host swanky events at the venues it sponsors, giving it networking opportunities and helping it to make new business deals.
Communities in Argentina, West Papua, Mexico, and Azerbaijan – to name but a few – have faced violence and imprisonment for standing up against BP’s extraction, pollution and corruption. BP continues to work closely with human rights-abusing regimes to gain access to their oil and gas, including jointly sponsoring exhibitions with the Egyptian and Russian governments at the British Museum.