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Divest DTU has received an answer on our letter to the President of DTU. Here is the answer, and below, some of our comments to it:

Dear Davide Dolente and Divest DTU,

Thank you for your letter. I appreciate you actively participating in our university and making your voice heard.

At DTU, we are committed to working for sustainable development, that is the central aspect of our strategy. At the same time, we recognize that being a green university in a society and a world that primarily functions because of fossil resources puts one in several dilemmas.

Today, most corners of society rely on oil-based products: In addition to fuel and heating, oil is used in rubber for bicycle tires, plastic, medicine, paint, etc. We are working hard to find alternatives for these products at DTU. We have more than 1000 scientists working on green energy alone—through extensive international collaboration.

At the same time, we are in a critical transition period where oil and gas extraction, cannot be shut down from one day to the next. That is why part of our research aims to ensure that oil and gas extraction takes place in the most efficient and safe way. We believe that is a substantial societal task.

During this transition, it is necessary to work with all types of companies. The green transition of society requires significant investments, and I do not see that happening without the industry. For example, oil and gas companies have the expertise, infrastructure, and assets to leverage renewable energy production and deployment. Without everybody's active contribution, the world simply will not reach net zero.

We evaluate our partners on the scientific merit and aim of our collaboration, and whether it benefits DTU's research and society. Our partnerships with companies and public organisations from around the world are in the DNA of what we do. Global collaboration with the relevant industries is critical in our pursuit of developing effective renewable technologies

Best regards,

Anders Bjarklev

Our comments:

We are disappointed to hear the “rubber tire, plastics, paint” argument to justify oil extraction. The share of oil usage for plastics versus combustion is entirely unbalanced, with fossil fuel resources for plastics constituting only 4-6% of total fossil fuel usage.

In our letter we do not ask DTU to “shut down oil and gas extraction from one day to the next.” Rather, our request is that DTU does not renew its contract with TotalEnergies.

The “substantial societal task”, we believe, is to ensure a livable future for coming generations, in Denmark and worldwide. This implies of course massive fossil fuel reduction.

To achieve this transition, it is necessary to work with companies that are on the right track to reduce emissions and invest in renewables. TotalEnergies is not one of those. Oil and gas companies have long denied and downplayed the very existence of climate change. They have actively lobbied against climate action, and for softer regulations – this is surely not the kind of company we need in the green transition. They have everything to gain by continuing to burn oil and gas.

The world can, in fact, reach net zero without everybody´s active contribution – if that contribution is towards more fossil fuel extraction.