On Thursday, 2 May, on behalf of the UvA-HvA Executive Board, Vice-President Paul Doop took delivery of a letter in which students ask the Executive Board to cease investing in fossil-fuel energy companies.
In the letter, the students ask the Executive Board of the University of Amsterdam and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Hogeschool van Amsterdam to start discussions with pension funds about making more sustainable investments, and to withdraw from funds that include shares in fossil-fuel energy companies.
SFSA secretary Laurie van der Burg, who presented the letter on behalf of Students for Sustainability Amsterdam (SFSA): ‘I and many of my fellow students are concerned about climate change. The carbon that is now mostly buried underground should not be released into the atmosphere, in order to rein in climate change. We are therefore appealing to the research university and university of applied sciences as major employers to withdraw their shares in fossil-fuel energy companies. These institutions are the ones who are giving us a future, and we therefore want them to take a proactive attitude with regard to that future.’
Paul Doop openly applauded the campaign. ‘Although as a research university and university of applied sciences we make few to no investments – our main investments are the city buildings – it is certainly true that we can make our voice heard to the pension fund. We need to be certain that they are genuinely investing in the future. The extraction of more fossil fuels sometimes seems like the main objective of the oil companies, whereas it is unclear what consequences this will bring. As a research university and university of applied sciences, we wish to put a stop to it and show students what is needed for the future’, says Doop.
‘We educate students for the future; it is our goal to give all of our students that little bit more. It’s not only about developing your own talents, but also those talents that will help advance society.’
The campaign started in the Netherlands at VU University Amsterdam, and originated from the United States and Canada. As part of a campaign titled ‘Do the Math’, students from hundreds of research universities are now urging their Executive Boards to abandon investments in fossil-fuel energy companies. The motivation comes not only from an idealistic perspective. It is also based on the conviction that now, after the IT and banking-sector bubbles, another economic bubble is set to burst: the carbon bubble, therefore making these types of investments a bad idea from both a financial and societal point of view.