Climate activists occupy University of Amsterdam building over ties to Shell
Dozens of climate activists occupied a building owned by the University of Amsterdam (UvA) on Monday afternoon. Demonstrators were standing in front of the former Academische Club, but activists also broke into the UvA building, according to a university spokesperson.
The building is not used for education purposes, and was closed at the time of the demonstration. The group of protestors were demanding that the UvA stop working collaboratively with Shell.
According to the activists, Shell sponsors various environmental research projects. In this way, the university contributes to the oil company’s “greenwashing,” demonstrators said. They want more transparency about the collaborations between the UvA and the fossil fuel industry.
The activists were holding banners that read, “End fossil. Occupy!” and “Shell violates human rights but is welcome at the UvA.” Participants include several groups, including University Rebellion UvA, End Fossil Occupy NL and squatters' movement Mokum Kraakt.
A representative of the university’s Executive Board was on their way to the building to speak with the activists. In addition to a substantive discussion, the Executive Board also informed the activists that occupation is not permitted at the UvA. Because the activists could not immediately promise whether they would leave, the UvA has reported a case of trespassing. A spokesperson on behalf of the activists said that they will stay in the building until 10 p.m. regardless. "No concessions have been made, so we see no reason to leave," said the spokesperson.
"The activists are concerned about the climate, so are we," said Jan Lintsen, Vice-Chair of the university’s Executive Board. The Executive Board has informed the demonstrators that it will organize a debate at the UvA about companies such as Shell. "We will also talk to people about whether there is space to conduct these kinds of protests elsewhere, which is not possible at the Academische Club,” said Linssen. The vice-chair added that the university will continue to keep watch over collaborations like those with Shell to prevent conflicts of interest.
The university said it does not work on promoting the use of fossil fuels and that no research is being done into fossil fuels. "Collaboration with external parties is always on our terms, with academic freedom, and independence and integrity are never compromised," the UvA said in a response.
Reporting by ANP