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VU largely halts collaborations with fossil fuel companies

Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau,
21 april 2023 - 13:00

The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam no longer wishes to cooperate with fossil fuel companies that do not comply with the Climate Agreement. According to the action group Scientist Rebellion, the VU is the second university in the world to make that decision.

The VU likes to work with partners who are “demonstrably transparent about, and accountable for, their commitment to the energy transition.” Companies in the fossil energy sector often fall short in that regard, the VU says in a press release.

 

The university only wants to enter into new research projects with companies that are “in the short term demonstrably committed to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

 

The VU is also establishing a national platform to start a “broad, critical, and constructive dialogue” with executives, employees, shareholders, and regulators. It wants to involve other universities in this as well.

 

“Second in the world”

Scientist Rebellion, a climate action group of scientists, is pleased with the news, stating that the VU, after Princeton University in the U.S., is the first university in the world to sever ties with the fossil energy sector in this way.

 

“After years of campaigning, the VU is doing what is needed,” says campaigner and lecturer in environmental geography Niels Debonne. “It is now even more deserving of the title of the most sustainable university in the Netherlands and I am proud to work here.”

The VU is not breaking off ongoing cooperation with fossil companies. PhD students are allowed to complete their research there.

But he remains vigilant. “We need to keep reminding the university that it must live up to this commitment and that the fossil companies it does continue to work with have actually reduced their emissions drastically within a few years,” Debonne said. 

 

Finish research

The VU is not breaking off ongoing cooperation with fossil companies. PhD students are allowed to complete their research there. There are a total of three research projects with Shell and one with another fossil company, says a spokesperson. When these will end is unknown, but in the event of any decision to extend them, the new conditions will apply.

 

Other Dutch universities are also reviewing their collaboration with polluting fossil fuel companies. The University of Amsterdam announced in February that it does not want new collaboration with Shell for the time being.