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Imperial College revealed as second largest beneficiary of fossil fuel funding among UK universities

Royal Holloway and Queen Mary also ranked among the top 10 recipients of donations from fossil fuel companies


New data shows that three London schools are among the top 10 university beneficiaries of fossil fuel funding.

The revelations were published by the climate journalism site DeSmog, which used Freedom of Information requests to investigate some of the UK’s largest universities.

Imperial College ranked second on the list, accepting pledges of £6,725,769 in funding from oil, gas and coal companies since 2022. Royal Holloway accepted £740,657 while Queen Mary London took £587,956 in pledges.

Despite many institutions having pledged to stop taking money from fossil fuel companies, the total funding appears to be on the rise: The Guardian reports that between 2017 and December 2021, universities accepted a total of £89m in funding, while an additional £40.9m has been accepted since then.

The total funding universities have received from fossil fuel companies includes money from research contracts, scholarships, grants, consultancy fees and tuition fees.

Shell, Petronas and BP provided the vast majority of these funds to UK universities, with their contributions making up 76 per cent of the nearly £41m.

The full list of beneficiaries and contributions is:

1. Exeter £14,700,000

2. Imperial College London £6,725,769

3. Heriot-Watt £6,005,844

4. Manchester £3,077,268

5. Cambridge £2,821,437

6. Oxford £1,209,221

7. Royal Holloway £740,657

8. Strathclyde £628,878

9. Queen Mary London £587,956

10. Teesside £500,000

The Guardian reports that Imperial College “has maintained a working relationship with 13 fossil fuel companies since 2022.”

An Imperial spokesperson said the university pledged in 2020 to only participate in research agreements “with fossil fuel companies where the research forms part of their plans for decarbonisation, and only if the company demonstrates a credible strategic commitment to achieving net zero by 2050.”

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