Fossil fuel companies profit from the world’s dependence on coal, oil, and gas.
Some climate activists are concerned that some of these same companies fund university research about climate and energy.
“I don’t think there should be a space in climate research in which the fossil fuel industry is involved,” says Bella Kumar, a student at George Washington University and an organizer with a campaign called Fossil Free Research.
Kumar is the lead author of a recent report by the think tank Data for Progress. Her team looked at 27 universities and found that the fossil fuel industry donated or pledged more than $600 million to the schools over a 10-year period.
Kumar says funders can influence which topics are studied. And in some cases, they influence how results are framed, for example downplaying the negative impacts of burning fossil fuels.
So her group calls on universities to enact stronger conflict of interest policies, increase transparency about research funders, and ultimately, decline fossil fuel funding.
“I think any time the fossil fuel industry is involved in creating the narrative around the climate is incredibly dangerous, and the best way to mitigate that is banning fossil fuel funding,” Kumar says.
Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media