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Mapping Fossil Ties to Academia

Thanks to financial support from AriaFossielvrij NL and Milieudefensie in 2023, we:

  • Maintained, the world’s first living database of academic relationships with the fossil industry and go-to place for information on Dutch academia’s fossil ties for journalists, action groups, students, university staff, NGOs, policymakers, and the public. It also documents the media debate around these relationships and offers a practical handbook to research them;
  • Supported and coordinated decentralised research by a coalition of researchers and action groups, encompassing crowdsourcing information at university campuses, freedom of information (FOI) requests, and providing tools for web crawling;
  • Acted as the main point of contact for key stakeholders in the debate of university-fossil ties and provide them with the information they need;
  • Identified the key factors (e.g. people, organisations, funding regulations) within the Dutch academic landscape responsible for continued influence of fossil industry;
  • Demonstrated our model of coalition-based research and outreach in other countries (kickstarting research coalitions in the UK and Belgium and helping a researcher in Germany).

In 2024, we plan to:

  • Continue maintaining the database, coordinating the Dutch coalition, researching incl. dealing with FOI requests, analyse the results and work with journalists to publish (funded by Aria and the Minor Foundation)
  • Compensate student volunteers in our coalition (min. €5.000 funding still required)
  • Bring to a European level (€40.000 funding still required)
    • Start and support new coalitions in other European countries by:
      • Setting up a living database for other countries and maintaining it
      • Sharing our resources in the form of a starters kit (website and database template, research guide, etc.)
      • Getting the coalition off the ground through giving workshops to share our experience, and helping with structure and roles within the coalition
      • Being available for questions and support
    • Analyse European-wide research results and publish about it with journalists
    • Disseminate information to key stakeholders, decision-makers and the public
    • Be the main contact point for European research into academia-fossil ties

Researching academic influence on tobacco policy and public health in the Netherlands

We have received a booster research grant from Leiden University to create a historical timeline of key events around the tobacco industry, university and government policies on smoking, number of smokers, and lung cancer patients in the Netherlands. We will investigate whether academic decisions, such as breaking research ties with the industry, affect policy changes and public health. The fossil industry, like the tobacco industry, opposes regulation by spreading disinformation and influencing politics and public opinion. We aim to apply lessons from the past around the tobacco industry to the fossil industry to promote public health.

Increasing engagement with the energy transition and climate justice among migrants

Working with migrant rights organisation Leids Steunloket Migranten, we will run a multilingual interactive programme to improve climate literacy among migrants in Leiden, especially those with little to no formal education. We introduce concepts such as climate justice and a just transition, and build support for these. We inform migrants of their democratic rights and the possibilities for climate action, and empower them to take advantage of them and to make their voices heard by those in power. We will also report on the impact of the energy transition and climate justice from the perspective of migrant communities to local and national government, energy transition initiatives and civic organisations. The programme is financially supported by Leiden municipality and Fonds1818. We are still looking for more funding, please get in touch if you can help with this.

Future research topics

  • Analyse what influences media coverage of climate issues; which narratives, language and visual content are used around climate-related coverage in the media and why, building on previous work
  • Research and visualise the effect of EU agricultural subsidies on biodiversity in different European countries
  • The link between the climate crisis & migration
  • The link between debt, money creation, financial risk & climate justice