British Queen celebrates



Several major UK universities have come under scrutiny for accepting substantial funding from fossil fuel giants such as Shell and ExxonMobil over the past year, despite their commitments to

combat the climate crisis and transition to greener practices, according to an investigative report.

DeSmog, a news and activist website dedicated to climate change issues, has revealed that since 2022, fossil fuel companies have pledged over €47 million (£41 million) to UK universities. These institutions, which are grappling with financial challenges and an impending funding crisis, have accepted funds from some of the world's largest energy corporations, including Shell, British Petroleum (BP), Malaysia's state-owned oil company Petronas, Eni (an Italian multinational), Total Energies, Saudi Aramco, and ExxonMobil.

The contributions provided by these fossil fuel companies are intended to support various initiatives, including research agreements, scholarships, and tuition fees. Remarkably, DeSmog found that these financial arrangements were approved by British universities despite their prior commitments to divest from fossil fuel companies.

A freedom of information request submitted by DeSmog disclosed that 44 UK universities accepted more than €47 million in total from 32 different fossil fuel companies in the last year. Some notable recipients of these funds include Exeter (£14,700,000), Imperial College London (£6,725,769), Cambridge (£2,821,437), Oxford (£1,209,221), Manchester (£3,077,268), Royal Holloway (£740,657), and Queen Mary London (£587,956), among others.

In response to DeSmog's findings, these universities have defended their positions. Exeter, the university that received the largest sum from fossil fuel companies, stated that its collaboration with Shell would "contribute to the global race to net zero." Meanwhile, Imperial College London, the second-largest beneficiary, highlighted its 2020 commitment to engage in research partnerships with fossil fuel companies only if the research aligns with decarbonization plans and a credible commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Although fossil fuel companies funding UK universities is not a new development, with previous investigations revealing that these institutions accepted over €103 million (£89 million) from gas and oil companies between 2017 and December 2021, many universities have made public commitments to distance themselves from major polluters. However, the DeSmog report does not detail the universities' investments in fossil fuels. Earlier research identified at least 18 higher education institutions that held direct investments totaling over €9 million (£8.1 million) in 25 oil and gas companies over the past year. Photo by Simon Cobb, Wikimedia commons.