Press release: Oxford University Report

By: Oxford Climate Justice Campaign
Text reads 'Oxford University: Sever fossil fuel ties

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

NEW REPORT REVEALS OXFORD UNIVERSITY RECEIVED ALMOST £12 MILLION FROM THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY SINCE 2015

 

Students expose University of Oxford’s extensive financial and personnel ties with the fossil fuel industry

 

On April 20, the student-run Oxford Climate Justice Campaign (OCJC) has revealed that since 2015 the University of Oxford has received over £8.2 million in research grants and £3.7 million in donations from the fossil fuel industry. These revelations are part of a 50 page report on Oxford’s financial and institutional connections with the fossil fuel industry, split into the sections ‘Research’, ‘Social License’, and ‘Revolving Door’. 

 

OCJC demands that these ties be cut in recognition of the climate crisis and the global injustices that it exacerbates.

 

The ‘Research’ section outlines how extractive research is conducted by Oxford academics. This research is often funded by, and is of immense value to, the fossil fuel industry. The ‘Social Licence’ section highlights donations to the University from fossil fuel companies such as BP, Rio Tinto, and Saudi Aramco, which benefit the industry’s public image. The 'Revolving Door’ section describes instances of simultaneous employment at the University and in the fossil fuel industry. It also shows how Oxford’s Careers Service actively encourages students to work in the sector by promoting positions in the industry. 

 

The report’s foreword is written by the exiled Chair of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda. Throughout, OCJC emphasises climate justice. They argue that Oxford University’s support of the fossil fuel industry equates to complicity in the environmental racism and human rights abuses the industry commits. 

 

The report is paired with a petition, calling on the University of Oxford to sever its fossil fuel ties.

 

OCJC statements:

 

‘The fossil fuel industry perpetuates the climate crisis and upholds global injustice. It contributes to the death and destitution of people worldwide, particularly the marginalised and disenfranchised. The University of Oxford must cut all its ties to this extractive industry.’

 

‘We acknowledge that cutting ties with the fossil fuel industry will require great effort. This makes it all the more important to start this process as soon as possible. We will not stop campaigning until the University of Oxford stands free from these ties.’

 

Benny Wenda statement:

 

‘Institutions like the University of Oxford, revered around the globe as a beacon of reason and justice, cannot continue to perpetuate and gain from the pillaging of our land. We hope those who aid BP and other fossil fuel companies listen to us before it is too late.’

 

Statement from J Clarke, Co Director of Climate Campaigns at People & Planet

 

‘British universities play a key role in propping up the fossil fuel companies most responsible for the climate crisis: this is something student campaigners in the People & Planet network have been saying for over a decade. This report from Oxford Climate Justice Campaign details the extent to which one of the most prestigious universities in the world is directly implicated in the unfolding climate catastrophe that is already hitting the world’s marginalised populations first and worst. It is essential that all universities sever their ties with oil, gas and mining companies as a matter of urgency, and the University of Oxford is no exception.’

 

Notable Findings of Report:

 

Research

  • Since 2015, Oxford received at least £8.2 million in research grants from fossil fuel companies. For example, in 2018, BP gave the Computer Science department £27,150 to fund a studentship into ‘AI and Cognitive Computing [...] with Application to the Oil and Gas Industry’

  • The KACST-Oxford Petrochemical Research Centre (KOPRC) focuses on novel oil refinery processes and catalysts, and is a joint venture between the University and Saudi Arabian science and technology centre KACST.  

 

Social Licence

  • Since 2015, the University accepted at least £3.7 million in donations from fossil fuel companies, and in 2021 the University received £100 million in a single donation from INEOS.

  • Undergraduates in STEM and Economics & Management can apply for a number of BP Scholarships. As well as receiving £3,000 per annum, scholars can attend informational events about the oil and gas industry and benefit from a fast track to interviews and internships at BP.

 

Revolving Door

  • The co-chair of the International Advisory Board of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government was formerly BP’s Group Chief Executive and is currently Executive Chairman for L1 Energy.

  • A member of the Steering Committee of Oxford’s Business Economics Programme is also Vice President of Shell Global Operations for the Trading and Supply Business.

 

Background:

 

  • Oxford Climate Justice Campaign is a student-led activist group focused on cutting ties between the University and fossil fuel sector, and acting in solidarity with the frontline communities most affected by climate change.

  • OCJC was behind the historic divestment resolution, passed in April 2020, committing the University to partial divestment from fossil fuels. As part of this campaign OCJC supported a five-day occupation of the Front Quad of St John’s College in January 2020.

  • In March 2021, Oxford University released a new sustainability strategy committing itself to achieving net zero carbon emissions and net biodiversity gain by 2035. The Strategy does not address the ties to the industry raised by the report.


 

Notes to Editor:

 

The data within the report has been ascertained through Freedom of Information requests, or is to be found in the public domain. 

 

Report ‘Money, People, Reputation: Oxford’s ties with the fossil fuel industry’ linked - https://oxfordunifossilfree.wordpress.com/report-money-people-reputation/