To: Anders Bjarklev (DTUfirstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: DTU must stop taking money from Big Oil
Dear Anders Overgaard Bjarklev, I and fellow students and colleagues find that it is time to discuss DTUs involvement with the fossil fuel industry. While many of the research programmes at DTU are beneficial for climate change mitigation, the maintained business with the fossil fuel industry does not belong at a modern university.
DTU is promoting itself as a responsible elite university with sustainability at its core. In its own words it describes this responsibility: “As a leading centre of expertise, we take responsibility by developing value-creating, sustainable technology for people and advising on sustainable solutions. DTU develops and uses technology with an equal sense of responsibility and care.”
The fossil fuel industry is known to actively work against climate policy. By cooperating with the fossil fuel industry to continue fossil fuel extraction DTU is actively counteracting the green transition that the society so desperately needs. In May 2022 Divest DTU was invited to a meeting with the university director at DTU. Here it was made clear that the management at DTU openly supports DTUs cooperation with Big Oil and values them as some of DTUs most important industry partners. This is in clear contradiction with DTUs devotion to sustainable solutions and a neglect of the responsibility that DTU claims to take.
We don’t question the academic freedom of researchers at DTU. But as the leading technical university in Denmark, the research at DTU is affecting the political decisions on a national level – both for the better and for the worse. Today, much of the worlds leading research is being conducted at universities. And in a time of crisis this comes with an extraordinary responsibility.
The world's stability has been changing in recent years and we face an uncertain future. We are in the midst of a global climate crisis, with climate disasters worsening year by year. And we are losing time to act. The IPCC report from 2022 is very clear. According to co-chair of the IPCC Working Group Jim Skea: “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C”. These are unprecedented historic times. As a species we simply risk social and ecological collapse.
According to the IPCC report, one of the five key measures to achieve the goal of halting climate collapse is to reduce fossil fuel use. And this requires a steep reduction of fossil fuel extraction. Even though energy prices are rapidly increasing we cannot afford to enhance our fossil fuel production as a global society.
In an open letter from earlier this year 500 academics from the US and the UK called on university leaders to reject all funding from fossil fuel companies. Likewise, we are now calling on you to reconsider DTUs involvement with fossil fuel extraction. We are tired of seeing large banners around campus that promote DTUs sustainable initiatives, while DTU at the same time refuses to take the responsibility that follows as a leading technical university. Therefore, we urge you to restore the integrity of the institution by rejecting funding from the fossil fuel industry.