Fossil fuel ties with universities highlighted by report

UK universities have the equivalent of £2,083 per student invested in the fossil fuel industry, a new report has claimed.

October 21, 2013

Senior executives from BP and Shell have also been given 20 awards and honorary degrees in the past decade, says Knowledge and Power: Fossil Fuel Universities from the campaign groups People and Planet, Platform and 350.org.

“Universities offer their credibility for cash when they sign deals sponsoring staff positions, buildings, conferences and lectures with fossil fuel companies,” it says.

“These deals play a key role in shoring up the fossil fuel industry’s public image.”

Of universities’ £62.2 billion in endowments, the report estimates that £5.2 billion is invested in the fossil fuel industry, usually through pension funds and other financial investments rather than being held directly.

It criticises a number of universities for having strong links with the industry, including the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Heriot-Watt University and Imperial College London.

The report also accuses universities of giving a platform for oil executives and hosting talks that are “frequently a thinly veiled advertisement for their company and their industry.”

Universities are also complicit in training oil company staff, designing courses for fossil fuel firms, “perhaps most significantly, are delivering research which will unlock new fossil fuels”.

It offers a number of recommendations, including freezing investment in fossil fuel companies, dropping courses “designed to funnel students into oil, gas and coal” and ending research into fossil fuels.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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