The sponsorship deal between BP and the British Museum has been questioned after Freedom of Information disclosures have revealed there is an ‘ethical black hole’ at the centre of the UK’s most visited cultural institution. 
The revelations come on the same day museum trustees meet in Manchester for an ‘away day’ – believed to be the first time they will meet since the museum announced it was renewing its five-year deal with BP in July. Art Not Oil can now reveal that, despite high-profile controversy and widespread public and staff opposition,  trustees were not given a say in this decision
The new evidence uncovered by the Art Not Oil coalition reveals:
● The decision-making process as promised by former director Neil MacGregor was not adhered to. He told staff ‘Any ethical questions which arise in the context of the Museum’s activities or sponsorships are discussed and decided by the Board of Trustees.’
● The trustees were not involved in making the decision to renew the deal, which was left in the hands of new director Hartwig Fischer. Trustees were merely ‘informed’ just before the announcement was made.
● The museum has no ethics committee – and it scrapped its dedicated ethics policy on the same day that a major BP-sponsored exhibition opened.
● The museum claims that the ethics policy available on its website until recently was never official.
● The museum does not appear to have assessed the ethical issues related to BP’s sponsorship, despite the risks it posed to the museum’s reputation.
● The museum claims that no correspondence took place between staff and BP in the months leading up to the announcement.
The revelations come a week after a huge ‘splashmob’ protest in the museum indicated that opposition to the BP sponsorship deal continues to grow. Over 200 ‘actorvists’ took part in an hour-long mass ocean-themed flashmob in the museum’s Great Court, organised by theatrical protest group and Art Not Oil coalition member BP or not BP?  The unsanctioned performance featured singing mermaids, BP pirates and a giant 40-foot kraken puppet the group smuggled in despite security bag checks. The performance highlighted the bizarre irony of BP’s sponsorship of the museum’s Sunken Cities exhibition when it is making such a large contribution to global warming, and called for the new BP deal to be overturned before it officially begins in 2018.
Jess Worth, from Art Not Oil, said:
We expect dodgy deals from BP, but not from the British Museum, which appears to have an ethical black hole at its heart.
“If there had been proper ethical scrutiny, there’s no way BP’s sponsorship could have been renewed. But without a dedicated ethics policy, an ethics committee or active oversight by its trustees, the director could overlook BP’s role as one of the world’s most destructive fossil fuel companies and ignore the damage it is doing to the museum’s reputation. The renewal meets neither the ethical standards we expect of leading museums nor the ethical standards being demanded by the public. This deal is illegitimate and must be reversed.’
Clara Paillard, President of the PCS Union Culture Sector which represents many British Museum staff, commented:
‘Last year, we wrote to Neil MacGregor with the PCS Culture Sector’s concerns about BP sponsorship at the British Museum. He assured us that any ethical questions arising around sponsorship are discussed and decided by the Board of Trustees, and that they take this very seriously. I am now finding out that the Trustees were merely “informed” rather than taking the decision. This is very disappointing. When we carried out a survey of staff at the museum back in March, 62% thought oil sponsorship was not ethical. It is time for Big Oil to become persona non grata in our museums, just as tobacco companies are. Climate change is happening now and these fossil fuel corporations shouldn’t be given a license to build a reputation as philanthropists rather than the climate-wreckers they are.’
In July, BP announced a new 5-year sponsorship deal with the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company, but slashed its total spend from £10m to £7.5m. Earlier this year, the end of BP’s sponsorship of Tate and the Edinburgh International Festival was announced after 26 years and 36 years respectively, following sustained creative protest.
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!