On Wednesday the BBC reported that Edinburgh International Festival announced that, after 34 years, BP would no longer be a sponsor.
Dr Chris Garrard – musician and environmentalist – writes to the FT from London SE2, to say that Michael Skapinker was wrong to advise, on April 17th, that “The British Museum should accept BP’s money”.
He points out the Carbon Tracker Initiative has calculated that more than $2trillion of capital expenditure by fossil fuel companies is already at risk if we are to stay within a 2C scenario.
And advises that the UK government could redirect some of the billions in tax breaks currently being given to fossil fuel companies, including BP.
Dr Garrard asserts: “Cultural institutions are far from being dependent on BP’s loose change for their survival . . . Rather than expect museums to find a ‘grove of money trees’ to fund themselves, the UK government could redirect some of the billions in tax breaks currently being given to fossil fuel companies”.
Readers would add other areas – including those of social deprivation and renewable energy generation – to which corporate tax breaks could be redirected.
He ends by saying that it is vital to delegitimise the fossil fuel industry,by divesting and denying it the PR benefits of sponsorship, in order to reduce its power over policymakers because with that obstacle to progress removed, we might actually have a chance of tackling dangerous climate change.
An unattributed article in the FT yesterday, however, urges cultural institutions to take money from BP and the like, because if deprived of corporate sponsorship they will end up charging for entry, sacking staff and diminishing cultural life. It did, however, admit that:
”In BP’s case, there are legitimate questions for debate. Unrestrained fossil fuel development will create an unacceptable risk of catastrophic climate change, and BP and its fellow oil companies will ultimately have to shift into other forms of energy or have their operations sharply curtailed”.