‘In recent months we have gathered together as many insights as possible from all areas of the UvA in order to ensure that any decision that we make is broadly supported by the UvA community,’ says Rector Magnificus Peter-Paul Verbeek. In the end, there appears to be a consensus on key points: we are facing a climate crisis, this can be regarded as an emergency that requires urgent action, the energy transition must be accelerated and achieving the Paris climate targets is key.
This consensus served as the guiding principle in the preparation of a decision. Based on the UvA-wide dialogue sessions for all students and staff, a proposal was submitted to the University Committee on Education, the University Committee on Research, the University Valorisation Committee, the Advisory Committee on Collaboration with Third Parties, the University of Amsterdam Ethics Committee, the Senate, the Central Works Council (COR), the Central Student Council (CSR) and the faculty deans. Following these consultations, the proposal was amended and the decision was approved.
Peter-Paul Verbeek: 'Global warming is moving so fast that our future is in jeopardy. We want to play our part in countering this, which means not only setting clear boundaries around collaboration with the fossil fuel sector but also investing more in sustainability. The UvA will work even harder to accelerate the energy transition and to meet the Paris climate targets, by intensifying research and education in the field of sustainability, and by reinforcing the policy on sustainability in our own operations.'
What does this decision mean in practice?
The UvA will no longer collaborate in projects in which the fossil fuel industry is involved, unless a project meets three strict criteria:
- The explicit objective of the project is to contribute to the achievement of targets under the Paris Agreement.
- The project – and, as a result, the positive targets that contribute to the Paris targets – cannot be implemented in another way or with other, non-fossil fuel partners; because data or measurement tools would not otherwise be available, for example.
- A broad-based, multidisciplinary advisory committee will advise as to whether the intended contribution to the climate objectives justifies the collaboration.
These stricter rules governing collaboration with third parties will be laid down in a new policy framework, find the current framework here (UvA login required). Any collaboration with the fossil fuel industry will be submitted by the dean of the faculty concerned for assessment against this framework by the Advisory Committee on Collaboration with Third Parties.
If we collaborate with partners from the fossil fuel sector, we will never do so in the field of the extraction of fossil fuels, and, wherever possible, we will avoid greenwashing whenever we can. Transparency and academic integrity are key.
- We will not accept sponsorship from Shell or other companies from the fossil fuel industry.
- We will intensify sustainability in research, education and valorisation and in our own operations.
- We will avoid greenwashing, among other things by including in collaboration agreements provisions on communication.
- We will be transparent about our collaboration projects.
- We will not shy away from engaging in debate with the fossil fuel industry.
How big is the financial contribution from research in collaboration with the fossil fuel industry?
It amounts to less than 1 million euros, or approximately 0.3 percent on an annual basis of the total research budget.
Total research income
In 2022, the UvA received approximately 240 million euros in government funding for all research at the UvA. In addition, research contract revenues amounted to approximately 89 million.
All the conditions governing collaboration, information on current projects and further information on sustainability in education, research and operations can be found at uva.nl/fossilfuelindustry.