Oxford University has accepted at least £1.6m from oil, gas and petrochemical companies in 2020-21 despite its 2035 net zero commitmentaccording to a report by the students.
The funding was on top of more than £11million Oxford received from fossil fuel donors between 2015 and 2020.
The research was based on a freedom of information request filed in October by the student-run Oxford Climate Justice Campaign (OCJC). He revealed that four companies, Eni, Mitsubishi, BP and Shell, had all made donations and research funds to the university totaling £1.6-1.7million from August 1, 2020 to 31 July 2021.
This included £208,700 for research funding from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and £58,600 for research funding and donations from Shell, according to the report.
The most important contribution, however, came from the Italian oil group Eni. He has donated more than £1.3million to Said Business School, according to FOI. Of this, it appears that £769,500 funded Eni scholarships and the remaining £571,000 supported the school’s Center for Corporate Reputation. The report describes this as “another case of corporate greenwashing”.
The figures do not include the £100million petrochemicals group Ineos has donated to set up a new institute to study antimicrobial resistance.
Scholars have noted the continued presence of posts and institutions named after or dedicated to fossil fuel donors, including Eni-Oxford Africa Scholarshipsthe Exxon-Mobil Fellowship in Global Health Sciences. The latest OCJC report also revealed that the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies was two-thirds funded by the fossil fuel industry.
The OCJC member behind the freedom of information request, Philip Hutchinson, said: “Oxford often tells us that donation money does not influence their research. But how can the Saïd Business School offer conferences and advice on climate policy while collecting money from the big producers of fossil fuels? It doesn’t take a genius to see that if you take that much money, millions every year, it will influence the advice you give to leaders.
He added, “This is especially true for the Center for Corporate Reputation. If you have a role in deciding what is acceptable for business, that money creates a huge conflict of interest that really calls into question Said Business School’s ability to give honest advice on these matters.
According to the report, Oxford revealed that it had received between £20,000 and £98,000 from BP in 2020-21, saying that revealing the exact amount of money given “would jeopardize its ability to secure future research funding from this source”, which is a valid exemption under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
“I think this is an inappropriate use of Section 43 of the FOI Act,” Hutchinson added. “It is simply untrue to claim that this will harm BP’s business interests when information about BP’s links to Oxford University has been around for years. Why would that only hurt their business interests now? »
Cambridge, on the other hand, publicly reports the exact amount of money each company, not just fossil fuel companies, provides in research grants to the university each year.
An Oxford spokesperson said: “The University of Oxford guarantees the independence of its teaching and research, whatever the nature of their funding. Those who give money to the university have no influence on how academics conduct their research or what conclusions they reach. Researchers publish the results of their work, whether deemed critical or favorable by industry or governments.
“Our research with different industries allows the university to apply its knowledge to real challenges of pressing global concern, with funding often going directly to research on climate and renewable energy issues. None of the philanthropic funding highlighted [by this report] went into mining and exploration research, but was used to expand access to education, to fund scholarships, university positions and investment costs.