Climate activists at various universities are protesting researchers’ collaboration with the fossil fuel industry. Yesterday activists in Leiden disrupted a speech by the rector, demanding that the university cut ties with oil and gas companies.


In a repeat of last autumn, activists in Rotterdam occupied a university building on Tuesday and Wednesday. They left on Wednesday evening (this time without the intervention of the riot police). The Executive Board acknowledged the climate emergency on Monday and wanted to talk to the demonstrators on Tuesday and Wednesday. Those participating in the occupation believe the university’s measures do not go far enough, and they ultimately refused to speak with the Board.

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Climate activists at Eindhoven University of Technology recently staged an occupation as well. They also demanded that the university sever its ties with oil and gas companies. There are no signs of this happening for now. During a meeting a few weeks after the occupation, dean Bart Smolders of the university’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering said that things are ‘not so black and white’.

In January, climate activists occupied a UvA building until they were removed from the building by riot police. This demonstration was also in response to the university’s collaboration with the fossil fuel industry.


The UvA now wants to take a step back. The board of the University of Amsterdam has announced a moratorium on research with Shell. For the time being, there will be no new research projects with Shell or similar companies, according to a statement. The board first wants to talk to students and staff. “The question is how and with whom we can collaborate.”

The university is currently involved in ‘four projects in which Shell is also one of the parties’. The projects are said to be studies ‘focused on clean energy, better analysis methods, or a better environment’. These four studies will be continued.

The university says it does not work on research that contributes ‘to the exploration or production of fossil fuels’, and states that none of its professorships are paid for by companies in the sector.

Energy transition

The outcome of these discussions is uncertain, as views sometimes differ. In Delft, for example, the Executive Board recently told climate activists that the fossil fuel industry is necessary for the energy transition.