University of Amsterdam sharply limits collaborations with fossil fuel companies
The University of Amsterdam (UvA) only wants to approve research projects involving collaborations with the fossil fuel industry if three conditions are met. The project must contribute to limiting global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius, the project would be impossible without data from the fossil fuel partner, and a committee must advise whether this project can be justified.
Climate activists have long criticized collaborations between universities and the fossil fuel industry. They want these to be more transparent. They also consider it "greenwashing" when, for example, a company like Shell sponsors sustainability research projects. Greenwashing means that a company pretends to be more sustainable than it actually is.
In February, the UvA announced that it would not enter into new partnerships with companies such as Shell for the time being. First there would be a "broad dialogue" on the subject. This conversation resulted in this decision, "which is widely supported in the UvA community," said Rector Magnificus Peter-Paul Verbeek on Thursday.
There is "consensus" on important points, according to the university. It agrees that there is a climate crisis that requires great urgency and can be seen as a global emergency. The energy transition must also be accelerated, and achieving the climate goals agreed in Paris is paramount.
In Paris, countries agreed in 2015 to make efforts to keep global warming well below 2 degrees compared to the pre-industrialized era, and preferably below 1.5 degrees. Verbeek said that the university wants to take responsibility to limit global warming. In addition to setting limits on collaborations with the fossil fuel sector, it said that the UvA will invest more in research into accelerating the energy transition and into sustainability.
The university also wants to be transparent about cooperation with the fossil fuel sector. It said that the contribution from the fossil fuel industry for research is "less than 1 million euros." According to the UvA, this is approximately 0.3 percent on an annual basis of the total budget for research.
Collaborations for research projects that have already been established will not be broken. However, the UvA is launching a website where more information can be found about the collaborations. In addition, the UvA also said it wants to combat "greenwashing." Partly for this reason, the university did not want further sponsorship by the fossil fuel industry.
Reporting by ANP