Students protest the University’s partnership with Shell
Students at Exeter’s Streatham and Penryn campuses protested last week after revelations that the University is continuing to invest in Shell.
In December last year, the University of Exeter announced it would be extending its 15-year partnership with Shell for a further five as part of a funding arrangement to work towards “carbon sequestration”. The joint project was described as working to identify “nature-based solutions…to determine their carbon impact”. Shell’s motivation comes from its target to be a “net-zero energy emissions business by 2050”.
Students at both the Streatham and Penryn campuses took protest on Thursday 9 February against the agreement between the University and Shell, along with the slogan ‘Get the Shell Out’. On the Streatham campus, students were joined with representatives from several societies, including the University’s Feminist, Labour and Socialist societies, as well as Extinction Rebellion Exeter. There was similar action at the Penryn campus, with students equally expressing their anger with the University’s decision-making processes.
Some groups of students and climate scientists at the University, who are arguably key stakeholders in any decision made, have criticised the University for failing to consult them before making their decision. Its agreement had been announced internally via a staff bulletin, however it was not until two weeks after this that the University held an online panel. The event was criticised as trying to prevent “potential student activism”, as the decision to partner with Shell had already been made. Furthermore, a post on the ‘Shell Out’ Instagram page criticises the partnership of going against the University’s Strategy 2030 sustainability aims.
An open letter to the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lisa Roberts, has been drafted by the group, with demands to end the relationship with Shell immediately, as well as committing to not entering new partnerships with organisations supporting fossil fuel, and adopt a transparent approach to choosing which external partners to work with.