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VU Amsterdam sets new course on behalf of energy transition

20 April 2023
From our values-driven mission, VU Amsterdam, through scientific education, research and valorisation, makes a meaningful contribution to a better world that is sustainable, fair and liveable. One of today's biggest societal challenges is the climate crisis and the energy transition this requires.

Research and innovation are essential pillars for that transition. Knowledge institutions and companies in the fossil energy sector have a crucial role to play in this research because of their knowledge and resources. However,  VU Amsterdam likes to work with public and private partners who feel the same responsibility and urgency and who show the same commitment to this research. Partners who are demonstrably transparent about, and accountable for, their commitment to the energy transition. Our scientists and students increasingly expect this from partners of VU Amsterdam.

Publications in scientific journals and IPCC reports, show that there is a lack of commitment and accountability by companies in the fossil energy sector on this topic. This means that VU Amsterdam has already been extremely reluctant to partner with companies in this industry in recent years, and we are now coming to a clear position. From now on, VU Amsterdam has decided to only enter into new research collaborations with companies from the fossil energy sector that demonstrably commit, in the short term, to the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement, and the level of decarbonisation required to limit temperature increase to a maximum of 2°C, and ideally to 1.5°C.  

At the same time, VU Amsterdam considers it very important to start a broad, critical and constructive dialogue on this issue with this industry, focused on what needs to be changed and how each can contribute to this change, in order to accelerate research for the benefit of the energy transition with joint commitment and transparency. Based on this responsibility and as a university with sustainability as its spearhead, we are taking this extra step.   

Urgent elaboration 
VU Amsterdam is therefore establishing a national platform of relevant directors, employees, shareholders and regulators. Several parties have already joined. We are currently working out the dialogue programme in detail and the first session will take place in May of this year. Our decision regarding the collaboration with fossil companies and building a platform for dialogue requires careful elaboration, which we are taking up seriously. But there is no time to lose and we cannot do this alone. VU Amsterdam is calling on parties, including other knowledge institutions at home and abroad, to do everything possible to accelerate the energy transition.