Degrees of Capture

Universities, the oil industry, and climate change

Our planet is warming up more quickly than at any time in the past 10,000 years. Within less than a century, scientists are predicting temperature rises of up to six degrees centigrade, sea-level rises of nearly a metre and climatic chaos.

These changes will in turn exacerbate weather-related disasters such as drought, flooding and windstorms, and increase the risks of water-borne diseases like malaria and diarrhoea. Hundreds of millions of people will face danger, disease and destitution as a result. These projections represent a consensus among several thousand of the world’s leading scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Yet, instead of bracing themselves to help tackle one of the biggest challenges facing humanity, Britain’s universities are walking hand-inhand with a big part of the problem: the oil and gas industry. Degrees of Capturereveals how many of our top academic institutions could be brought into disrepute through their links to big oil. The report highlights:

  • How universities are collaborating with an industry that continues to foster our dependence on climate destroying fossil fuels
  • How this collaboration is subsidised by government
  • How the oil and gas industry is happy to invest its own money in the short term pursuit of profit, but prefers the public to pay for protecting its longer term interests and ensuring our fossil fuel dependence

Degrees of Capture also reveals: a failure of academic accountability and transparency, commercial confidentiality overtaking academic freedom, researchers afraid to speak out for fear of losing funding, and the lack of a central register of research and academics interests.

This report argues that, especially where public money is concerned, the long term public interest must come before short term private gains.

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