END FOSSIL OCCUPY!
SIGN THE MANIFESTO
The climate catastrophe is now, it is a real threat to human and planetary well-being, and we are extremely close on time to avoid worse consequences. This was the conclusion of the latest IPCC report, in which the world’s leading scientists call for a radical and fast transformation of our economy, politics, and society: “We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a livable future”.
Universities should be leading the way as we face this existential challenge. As a scientific community that understands and agrees on the evidence, it has the moral responsibility to inform and influence the rest of society. But instead, they are distracted with small-scale, incremental actions that are known to be nowhere near enough of what this crisis requires. Also Utrecht University proudly proclaims that “contributing to sustainability challenges is a top priority on its long-term agenda”, while having no clear plan and continuing to collaborate with the fossil fuel industry under the veil of developing “green” technologies that in the end only keep these immoral companies alive.
We need research that truly works towards the University’s vision of “a better world”, and that removes barriers to achieving this. Universities must create room for nurturing radical new ideas and provide their students and staff with the tools necessary to be a part of transforming our society.
That is why we demand Utrecht University to:
1. CUT ALL TIES WITH THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY
2. BE TRANSPARENT AND TAKE RESPONSABILITY
3. MAKE THE UNIVERSITY ACCESSIBLE
This entails cutting ties with every company that actively extracts fossil fuels, or finances this process. The fossil industry has resisted a just energy transition for decades and funded researchers to spread doubt about the climate crisis. There is no reason to expect them to change course any time soon, as their main concern is to always prioritize profits and shareholder interests. Shell, for example, has only invested 1.5% of its total expenditure in renewables, while spending millions on climate lobbying, continuing to explore for new oil and gas sources and violating human rights in doing so. Collaborating with these fossil-criminals is thus dangerous and goes against the university’s sustainability goals as well as its responsibility to prepare students for a livable future. According to the University's code of conduct, students are "preparing for careers and responsible positions in society,"; the University should act accordingly by taking a responsible position in society itself. As a close-knit community of employees, involved students and alumni, the key is to work together.
We demand that Utrecht University is clear and honest about all its collaborations, finances, as well as environmental and climate impact. Regarding the latter, it is important that they hold themselves to account by having clear plans that go beyond separating waste and promoting the SDGs. As a respected and influential knowledge-creating body, the university must continue and further science communication on the climate emergency, both internally and externally, in order to act as a responsible educator on a civic, regional, national, and international level. This includes making students aware of the grave importance of climate justice issues, acknowledging its past collaboration with the fossil fuel industry that is deeply rooted in extractavism and colonialism, and reflecting upon other oppressive structures in academia that stands within a colonial lineage. Only by adequately addressing these wrongs can we take full responsibility and transform the university from a regressive institution into the bulwark of a liberated future for current and future generations.
A safe and inclusive academic environment with long-term perspectives and reliability is essential for students and staff to be empowered to engage in the necessary struggle for systematic change. This requires taking away all barriers to qualitative education and constructive and structural academic work. Hence, independent of class, race, ability, sexuality and gender, everyone should have a place and a voice at UU. This must be reflected in the way the university conducts itself towards its students and staff, ensuring that all students have fair access to affordable housing, food and transportation, renumerating staff fairly, and ending precarization on every level.
Do not accept any funding from the fossil fuel industry.
Do not start new research projects with the fossil fuel industry.
Stop all research projects by 2025 that either work with, or assist the fossil fuel industry.
Include this in your strategic plan 2025 and all coming strategic plans (see Be Transparent and Take Responsibility).
Do not promote the fossil fuel industry through career days, excursions, guest lectures/research, or other recruitment activities.
Do not employ people that are simultaneously involved, either financially or intellectually, with the fossil fuel industry.
Establish a democratic student/staff commission that creates a moral framework for all other industry partners.
This would form a clear guideline for the university to decide with which partners to keep on collaborating, based on whether they are in line with the university's values and vision.
Be transparent on all partners and finance flows into the university.
Be transparent on your climate impact and reporting.
Integrate sustainability and environmental justice in all curricula/faculty programs and establish a mandatory course on the climate crisis that is truly interdisciplinary.
By specialized groups in each faculty that develop a faculty-specific plan. Integrating the SDGs is far from enough!
Declare the climate and ecological emergency with a call for climate justice.
Include this in your 'mission and vision'.
Take responsibility as a public educational institution to hold the governments accountable on their climate commitments.
Clarify and democratize Utrecht University's 'Strategic Plan 2025 subsection sustainability' by being specific, tangible, and time-bound.
Include cutting ties with the fossil industry.
Make the university an inclusive space accessible for everybody.
Provide adequate support for neurodivergent students, listen to the struggles of marginalized groups and act on them.
Properly address complaints by researchers, students and employees, including answering to previous filed complaints, as this is the only way to create a safe work environment where people can grow and learn.
Involve staff and students in direct democratic decision-making by introducing a student and staff assembly.
End precarization of university staff: end zero-hour, non-permanent, and casual contracts.
Offer affordable and ethical food choices: plant-based by default, localized, seasonal and organic.
Demand an end to student dept from the government.
Demand free transportation for international students and staff from the government.
Provide support and documentation for international students to access services that are within their right as a resident of the Netherlands.
Ensure access to affordable housing for all students.
Increase the access and availability of free climate education for the public in forms of lectures, access to university resources, materials, library spaces, etc.
Educate and integrate a climate justice approach to research and teaching: acknowledge the university's position in the Global North, and commit to a post-extractivist research ethics .
(bold demands are of higher priority)
The assembly is a deliberative group of randomly selected students and staff, representing the university community, in which marginalized groups are sufficiently represented. They should have more than just an advisory role, and hence voting rights on all subjects.
Decolonize the university: be transparent on its colonial history, decolonize curricula and staff body, commit to more decolonial research.
Take inspiration from here.