Live blog closed: the occupation at TU Delft is over

End Fossil activists occupied TU Delft’s Pulse education building on Wednesday morning, 10 May. The occupation continued into the night. Delta kept this live blog.

'Cut the ties'. (Photo: Thirza Bolhuis)

  • 11 May 2023, 11:26 AM
    Scientist Rebellion Delft, which consists of about 10 active members, says in a statement it is proud of ‘generation of students who understand and embrace the climate crisis’ urgency and act boldly in the face of inaction’. Scientist Rebellion believes the TU Delft administration should show leadership and vision by taking ‘bold decisions’.

    In the statement, the researchers refer to the recent public deliberation on the collaboration with the fossil industry as evidence that not all staff see the immediate need to end the collaboration. The ‘yes, but’s’ provided as arguments against cutting the ties will never weaken that urgency, no matter what practical considerations are being put on the table. The IPCC is very clear on that: there is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all’. According to Scientist Rebellion, companies whose business model remains dependent on fossil fuel extraction cannot be serious partners of a university.

  • 00:29 AM
    The occupation of Pulse is over. Eventually, End Fossil activists decided to walk along with the officers present in large numbers. The police did not arrest anyone.

    (Photo: End Fossil)

  • 00:14 AM
    Officers have ordered the activists in Pulse to leave. There are now 12 people left, reports End Fossil. They have no intention of leaving voluntarily, even as they see the number of policemen increasing. Banners have appeared on the building opposite Pulse, a coffee shop and bicycle parking area, which hung in Pulse earlier in the day.
  • 11:25 PM
    Police are on their way to Pulse. This is what a TU Delft spokesperson informs. The premises close at 11 PM and TU Delft has told the occupiers in advance that they have to leave then. They in turn do not want to go until the TU Delft fulfils at least one of their demands.
  • 8:53 PM
    End Fossil reports that security guards at TU Delft have sealed off the Pulse building, after the activists had called on people to come and support them. That means no one can enter anymore. Around 25 activists are still inside. They are doing karaoke.
  • 7:17 PM
    TU Delft expects to receive more money from fossil companies in the coming years than in the recent past. In the years 2019-2022, TU Delft received between €2.5 million and €3.5 million annually from the fossil industry. That will be €4 million to €5 million, as a result of major projects on CO2 storage, batteries, electric mobility and e-Refinery (sustainable production of chemicals and fuels). In the years mentioned, total benefits from projects with third parties amounted to around €200 million. The largest contribution from the fossil industry came from Shell and this will continue to be the case, but it is unknown how the amount is distributed among different companies. 
    This is shown by financial figures from TU Delft regarding the fossil industry, which End Fossil shared with Delta. The overview was given to them by vice rector Rob Mudde. The figures came up during the conversation between the two parties earlier today.
  • 5:38 PM 
    End Fossil activist and TU Delft student Tom Twigt reacts with disappointment to the conversation with Mudde. According to him, there has already been enough talking and the process is “now being delayed again with a moral deliberation”. “In the meantime, you can do all the right things: not letting fossil companies onto career fairs, making sure you don’t start new projects. It can be done and TU Delft chooses not to.” Twigt is moving into the evening “nervously”, he says, not knowing whether the TU will have him and his fellow activists removed by the police, as happened at Erasmus University. “I am not looking forward to it, but we will keep going until we reach our goal,” he says.

    In the climate emotions workshop at the end of the afternoon, attendees expressed their feelings after talking to Rob Mudde of the Executive Board. Words that passed were frustration, angry, disappointed, sad, despair, tired, shocked, not surprised, let down and offended. (Photo: Thirza Bolhuis)

  • 5:12 PM 
    Exactly half an hour after his arrival, Rob Mudde left Pulse. He and several activists spoke to each other about End Fossil’s demands. The conversation was a repeat of previous talks (links to Delta reports can be found at the bottom of this blog). The two sides disagree on severing ties with the fossil industry. 
    During the discussion, a listener suggested that TU Delft gets only 1 per cent of its annual income out of projects with third parties from fossil companies and that it is an active choice to take that money. Mudde confirmed that. The total income from third party projects van €206 million in 2021.
    After Mudde’s departure, activists from Mapping Fossil Ties called on TU Delft researchers to report any collaboration with fossil companies. The action group has come a long way (in Dutch) in mapping that, but has not yet completed the picture.
  • 4:48 PM
    At 4:30 PM, vice Rector Rob Mudde has arrived at Pulse to engage in talks with the activists. The latter speak of negotiations. Mudde thanked End Fossil for the invitation and said the activists were raising an important issue. He agreed with them that there is no ‘planet B’. “We understand your points and we are working on the energy transition, from fossil to renewable energy. That is why we are launching a morale consultation so that researchers can discuss with each other when it is okay for fossil companies to support them.”
    Mudde added that a moral deliberation will also be held on the extent to which fossil companies are allowed to recruit students on campus. “The Bedrijvendagen are organised by students, so with them we will have a discussion. I am not saying that that means fossil companies will therefore be barred.”
    The vice rector referred to the government for whether fossil subsidies should stop.

    Rob Mudde (grey jacket) talking to the activists. (Photo: Thirza Bolhuis)

  • 4:18 PM
    TU Delft has informed End Fossil activists that they must leave Pulse by 11:00 PM. The activists are not planning to do so. Emre Gökalan says End Fossil will only go if the TU fulfils one of the following demands: stop entering into new collaborations with the fossil industry, stop allowing these companies to participate in recruitment events on campus, or openly voice your support for the call to stop fossil subsidies. 
    Although many students currently at work in Pulse are continuing to do just that, support for the activists is increasing somewhat now that student council party Lijst Bèta has backed End Fossil. Representatives of the party are present in Pulse.
  • 3:04 PM
    Participants in the panel discussion agreed that fossil subsidies should stop, the demand that Extinction Rebellion also has at the A12 occupations. This was evident at the end of the discussion. Asked what climate action they would take now if they could, GroenLinks replied that pollution should be taxed. SP thought the energy industry should be nationalised. Bij1 suggested taxing the super-rich heavily and protecting indigenous peoples. Stip mentioned carbon tax and D66 called for more money for local climate projects.

    The panelists with, from left to right, Brendan Analikwu (D66), Julia Jouwe (Bij1), Lieke van Rossum (SP), Jip Enthoven (Stip) and Jeanique Romeijnders (GroenLinks). (Photo: Thirza Bolhuis)

  • 2:15 PM
    Representatives of (municipal council) parties GroenLinks, SP, D66, Bij1 and Stip are having a panel discussion on the role of politics. They will discuss the ‘biggest failures of national governments’, what the municipality can do and their favourite climate policies.

    (Photo: Thirza Bolhuis)

  • 2:06 PM
    Fifteen activists plan to spend the night at Pulse. They have already put up a tent.

    (Foto: Thirza Bolhuis)

  • 1:25 PM
    Why did the activists choose Pulse as the site of occupation? According to spokesperson Alex, it is because it is a neutral place. “We are not focused on any specific faculty,” he says.

    (Photo: Thijs van Reeuwijk)

  • 1:10 PM
    The activists, present with 30 to 40 people, want TU Delft to cease starting new research projects with fossil companies. “That’s the first step. If we get that commitment, we are out of here,” said student and End Fossil activist Emre Gökalan. Next, if it is up to End Fossil, is to cut all ties with the fossil industry.

    Emre Gökalan. (Photo: Thirza Bolhuis)

  • 12:50 PM
    A group of fifteen activists leave from assembly point TU Delft Library to education building Pulse. There, security guards from G4S are waiting for them. There, other activists and G4S security guards are waiting for them. They have obviously been there for a while. There is food, there are posters and clothes.

    (Photo: Thirza Bolhuis)

  • In anticipation of the occupation, End Fossil activists have shared a programme for the day on Instagram. This includes a lunch and climate lecture at 12:45 PM and a debate between Delft city councillors at 2:00 PM. The programme will run until 11:00 PM, after which the activists plan to stay overnight at their occupation site. TU has earlier indicated that the closing time of the occupied building is leading, which would mean that the activists would have to leave then.
  • The occupation in Delft is not an isolated incident. On Monday, activists occupied a hall at Utrecht University and announced occupations or actions at at least six other institutions. At Erasmus University Rotterdam, a building was occupied on Tuesday. The Rotterdam climate activists were removed the same evening, reports (in Dutch) news platform Erasmus Magazine. Most left the building voluntarily. Twelve of them were dragged away by police officers.
  • End Fossil has been making a stir in Delft since December. The climate activists first and second talks with the Executive Board both led to some promises by TU Delft. In the meantime, End Fossil campaigned at the Dies and Delftse Bedrijvendagen (Delft Business Days), among others, and one of its spokespersons joined a deliberation on fossil ties. The main point, cut ties with the fossil industry, is as yet a bridge too far for TU Delft. It argues that these companies are needed for the energy transition.
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