VU Amsterdam is happy to work with partners that ‘demonstrate transparency about their efforts in relation to the energy transition and hold themselves accountable for it’. Companies in the fossil fuel sector often fall short in that regard, it says in a press release.

Consequently, the university wants to take on new research projects only with companies that “commit themselves demonstrably, and soon, to the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement”.

VU Amsterdam is also launching a platform to start a ‘broad, critical and constructive dialogue’ with directors, employees, shareholders and regulatory bodies. It would also like to involve other universities in the platform.

‘Second in the world’

Scientist Rebellion, a scientists’ climate action group, is delighted with the news and says that VU Amsterdam is only the second university in the world, after Princeton University in the USA, that has broken its ties with the fossil fuel sector in this way.

“After many years of campaigning, VU Amsterdam is now doing what is necessary”, says activist and lecturer in environmental geography Niels Debonne. “It now has an even greater right to the title of the most sustainable university in the Netherlands and I’m proud to be working here.”

But he is on his guard too. “We have to keep reminding the university that it has to carry through this plan in practice and that the fossil fuel companies with which it continues to collaborate also reduce their emissions substantially within a few years”, Debonne adds.

Finish research

VU Amsterdam is not breaking ongoing partnerships with fossil fuel companies. PhD candidates will be allowed to complete their research. There are three research projects with Shell and one with another fossil fuel company, a spokesperson says. It is not known when they will end, but if a decision is taken to extend them, the new conditions will apply.

Other Dutch universities are examining their collaboration with fossil fuel companies as well. The University of Amsterdam announced in February that it does not want any new partnership with Shell for the time being.

Illustration fossil companies x EFR and STAR samenwerking fossiele industrie_Migle Alonderyte

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