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The British Museum has ended its partnership with BP. Why is this good news?

The British Museum has ended its partnership with BP. Why is this good news?

Image source: © canva
Marta Grzeszczuk,
09.06.2023 15:30

The oil company BP's 27-year sponsorship of exhibitions and events at the British Museum has come to an end. This partnership had long been problematic for the museum's image.

It is only the beginning of June and the effects of the climate crisis are becoming increasingly dramatic. Spain is turning into a desert, forest fires in Canada are smothering New York City with suffocating smoke, and unnatural 40-degree heat waves are sweeping across East Asia. In Poland, too, drought is affecting crops and the possibility of forest fires is rising as well.

Meanwhile corporations that make a living from destroying the environment do everything they can to ensure that this is not the main association with their brand. They practise shameless greenwashing, "inventing" indicators that supposedly prove that their activities have something to do with ecology. Often, as in the case of BP, they 'plug in' their image to widely respected institutions in order to generate positive associations with their brand.

Only 100 corporations are responsible for the climate crisis

Merely 100 global companies are responsible for 71 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions as theguardian.com wrote five years ago. We are not so much on the brink of a climate catastrophe as we are feeling its effects more and more acutely. This is due to these companies’ profits.

Corporations are doing what they can to shift responsibility for the climate crisis onto the individual choices of their customers. Like, for example, airlines giving the option of a 'green' surcharge on a ticket. Our individual choices are important, but they won't change much as long as environmentally devastating companies run their bussinesses without suffering any consequences, above all financial ones.

"It is important that institutions like the British Museum do not give oil companies a chance to appear as a positive social force," says the novelist Ahdaf Soueif.

The Tate, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Shakespeare Company, Scottish Ballet and Royal Opera House have also resigned from their partnerships with BP over recent years. Ahdaf Soueif resigned from the board of the British Museum in 2019 due to, among other things, the institution's collaboration with BP.

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