National Galleries cuts ties with BP over climate emergency

Istock-878965148 (1)

The charity will cease to work with the oil giant from early next year. 

11th November 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

The National Galleries of Scotland’s association with BP will come to an end early next year, bosses have confirmed.

The arts organisation, a registered charity in Scotland, said it will no longer work with the oil giant after the upcoming BP Portrait Award 2019 exhibition closes next March.

A spokesperson said concerns had been raised around whether BP was a fitting partner for the galleries given the ongoing climate emergency.

The move comes almost four years after the Edinburgh International Festival also broke ties with BP.

A National Galleries of Scotland spokesperson said: “At the National Galleries of Scotland we recognise that we have a responsibility to do all we can to address the climate emergency. For many people, the association of this competition with BP is seen as being at odds with that aim.

“Therefore, after due consideration, the trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland have decided that this will be the last time that the galleries will host this exhibition in its present form.

“The exhibition has been extremely popular with new and existing visitors over the years. We are grateful to the National Portrait Gallery in London and to BP for the opportunity that the competition and exhibition has provided to inspire young talent and to promote portrait artists from around the world.”

BP recently came sixth on the Climate Accountability Institute’s list of the world’s biggest producers of carbon emissions. Between 2018 and 2030 it is estimated the company will produce 7,634 million tonnes of C02.

The firm continues to support arts venues and projects around the UK.

Alys Mumford, from campaign group BP or not BP? Scotland, welcomed today’s announcement.

She said: “It is extremely significant that yet another major Scottish cultural institution has dropped fossil fuel sponsorship, following the Edinburgh International Festival in 2015 and the Edinburgh Science Festival earlier this year.

“This is a massive win for campaigners who have taken action against the BP Portrait Award being hosted in Scotland for several years. It sends a clear message that it is no longer socially acceptable to have links with the fossil fuel industry because of their continued role in driving the climate crisis and human rights abuses across the world.

“We hope that the few remaining institutions that allow themselves to be used as greenwash for the industry join the National Galleries on the right side of history.”