Questions raised about process behind SMG’s Adani deal - Museums Association

Questions raised about process behind SMG’s Adani deal

Climate activists say organisation ignored due diligence findings on coal conglomerate
Climate campaigners held an unsanctioned book launch at the Science Museum last week
Climate campaigners held an unsanctioned book launch at the Science Museum last week Photo by Chris Jerrey, Culture Unstained

Climate campaigners say the Science Museum Group (SMG) ignored the damaging findings of an internal due diligence report in order to press ahead with its controversial partnership with the energy giant Adani.

Fossil Free Science Museum, a coalition of climate activist groups, has published a photo-book based on the 12-page due diligence report commissioned by the SMG during its negotiations with the Indian conglomerate. Campaigners interrupted an after-hours event at London’s Science Museum last week to stage an impromptu book launch.

The publication features extracts from the internal report, which was produced by the SMG in December 2020, showing that it was aware of damaging claims about the Adani Group regarding the impact of its coalmining activities on the environment and Indigenous communities, as well as allegations of corruption, human rights abuses and poor conditions for workers.

Freedom of Information (FOI) disclosures obtained by the anti-fossil fuel group Culture Unstained show that the SMG's senior management did not respond to the findings and did not share the report with its trustees, who were responsible for approving the deal.

Instead, after receiving the report, SMG took the decision to move ahead with a partnership with Adani Green Energy, one of six companies owned by the Adani Group, and a new due diligence report was produced on the company that did not include previous report’s findings.

Adani Green Energy was later announced as the sponsor of the museum’s new Energy Revolution Gallery, which is due to open this autumn. The deal led to the high-profile resignations of trustees Hannah Fry and Jo Foster in late 2021.


The SMG has strenuously defended the process behind the deal. A spokeswoman told Museums Journal: “No partnership was ever proposed for a corporate sponsorship specifically with the ‘Adani Group’. Following the first exploratory conversation with Mr Adani, and in line with our robust approach to due diligence, we carried out initial checks on the six companies that make up the Adani Group before proceeding with conversations, which ultimately culminated in a partnership with Adani Green Energy, the sponsor of the Energy Revolution Gallery.”

A spokesman for Culture Unstained, one of the groups involved in anti-fossil fuel activism, said: “The Science Museum Group’s due diligence report on the Adani Group would surely have made any other museum show the conglomerate the door. So why did the director move negotiations with Adani forward instead, and just half an hour after that damning document crossed his desk?

“Adani Green Energy is not some standalone renewables firm as the museum claims but, to use the words of Hindenburg Research, ‘intricately and distinctly linked’ to the rest of the Adani Group which has been accused of fraud and stock manipulation on a massive scale.

“Crucially for the museum, it has been shown that Adani has used its so-called green energy business as a way to help finance its Carmichael coal mine in Australia. So, this new gallery, which is meant to explore how we will ‘cut global dependence on fossil fuels’, will actually promote the name of a company that is being cynically used to do the exact opposite – get more dirty coal out of the ground.”

In a statement, the SMG said: “Sponsorship income is vital to the transformation of our five museums, ensuring millions of people can continue to enjoy an inspiring visit. For example, sponsorship by the major renewable energy company Adani Green Energy is enabling us to create a brand new gallery at the Science Museum exploring the vital energy transition needed to cut global dependence on fossil fuels and curb climate change.

“In all such partnerships, the SMG retains full editorial control, which is clearly and unambiguously laid out in our sponsorship contracts.”

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