TU Delft promises End Fossil transparency about fossil fuel subsidies

Should something be done about the links between TU and the fossil industry? The Executive Board and End Fossil met for a new consultation on 14 February.

End Fossil called for breaking ties with the fossil industry at the TU Delft Dies. (Photo: Rob van der Wal)

The follow-up meeting on 14 February between the End Fossil pressure group and the Executive Board about the links with the fossil fuel industry brought both sides somewhat closer. The meeting was a follow up to the first meeting on 22 December. Vice Rector Rob Mudde now made a few pledges, including transparency about the full amount of fossil fuel research subsidies that TU Delft receives. 

At the Dies on Friday 13 January, End Fossil handed over 21 scientific papers and newspaper articles on the fossil fuel industry to Mudde. The pile of papers lay before him on the table at the meeting on 14 February. He said that he did not find any new arguments to break the ties with the fossil fuel industry. “And I see no Plan B.” 

Associate Professor of Geosciences Dr Ricardo Riva, Professor of Remote Sensing Dr Herman Russchenberg, and Professor Jan-Dirk Jansen joined the meeting. Jansen is the Dean of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences (CEG) and an expert in the field of reservoir management and production optimalisation. He worked for Shell for more than 24 years. 

Riva, who attended as a member of Scientists Rebellion, said that he intended to hold an open debate about the fossil fuel industry’s ties with TU Delft in March or April. More information about this will follow. And while Vice Rector Russchenberg did not appear to take a firm stand and said that he was interested in the outcome of the debate, Jansen called it ‘naive en irresponsible’ to ‘stop using oil tomorrow’. 

Charlotte Braat of End Fossil emphasised that End Fossil too does not want to stop oil tomorrow. “But I do think that it is irresponsible to support and give legitimacy to an entity that, by way of example, pollutes the entire Niger Delta.” 

‘Naive en irresponsible’ to ‘stop using oil tomorrow’ 

After more than one-and-a-half hours (instead of the planned half hour), Mudde found it time to wrap up the meeting. He promised to make the total amount of research subsidies from the fossil fuel industry clear, as End Fossil has previously requested. Mudde will also specify how long the contract with the Delphi Consortium – an alliance of the faculties of CEG, Applied Sciences and 25 fossil fuel companies – will still run and what can be changed. 

“And what do you think about removing the logos and sponsoring of all fossil fuel companies in extracurricular activities such as the Dream Teams?” Mudde added. End Fossil jumped on this, just as it did with Mudde’s suggestion of looking into the feasibility of making climate ethics mandatory in all masters and bachelors. The latter point is one of End Fossil’s demands. 

These demands are also targeted at the Delftse Bedrijvendagen (DDB) next week in Delft. End Fossil believes that the fossil fuel industry should not be welcome there anymore. It is too late for this year’s event, Mudde had said previously, but on 14 March the Executive Board will discuss the presence of fossil fuel companies for next year’s event. End Fossil will also enter into discussions with the DDB. The possibility of combining both meetings is being looked into. 

In the meantime, the pressure group is planning a demonstration against the presence of the RWE energy company at the DDB. The energy company is involved in coal mining in Lützerath in Germany. “The organisers of the Delftse Bedrijvendagen has even allotted RWE a space under the sustainability label,” says Braat. The demonstration will be held on 20 February at 11:00 in front of the Aula.  

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Science editor Rob van der Wal

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