September 19, 2017

Report exposes the ties between fossil fuels and uni councils

Report exposes the ties between fossil fuels and uni councils

SYDNEY, September 19, 2017: Australia joined the Fossil Free Universities network today to launch a report highlighting the close ties between the fossil fuel industry and members of leading Australian universities’ governing councils.

The report “Exposing The Ties”, available here, shows how key decision makers at some of the country’s leading tertiary institutions including the University of Queensland, University of Newcastle and University of New South Wales are non-executive directors or former employees of fossil fuel companies including AGL, BHP and Rio Tinto.


The report, launched at a webinar hosted by examines the Universities of NSW, Newcastle, Queensland, Sydney, as well as Deakin and Monash University. The report names council members with links to fossil fuel companies and outlines the substantial funding the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) provides to these institutions, as well as to Wollongong and Melbourne Universities.

“I am deeply concerned that the ties universities have to the fossil fuels industry could create a serious conflict of interest when it comes to decisions around whether a university moves its money out of coal, oil and gas,” said’s Jackson Turner.

“It is immoral for people advising the boards of coal, oil and gas companies to make decisions that shape the future of young people at universities, while the companies they represent risk the future of young people by accelerating the climate crisis.”

Over the last four years, students in the Fossil Free Universities network have led campaigns across 18 Australian campuses urging their universities to divest from coal, oil and gas as part of the global divestment movement. Globally more than 100 universities have divested from fossil fuels including Yale, Stanford, Oxford and the London School of Economics. Overall, the divestment movement has seen more than US$5.5 trillion divested by 749 institutions in almost 80 countries.

“Currently, Australian universities invest millions of dollars through their endowments into fossil fuel companies that are putting our future at risk from the impacts of dangerous climate change” said Elizabeth Morley from Fossil Free UNSW.

“Openly addressing potential conflicts of interest will be critical to ensuring universities are not part of Australia’s failure to adequately address climate change and take urgent steps to speed up the transition from polluting coal, oil and gas to the clean energy solutions needed right now.”

“As a paying student, I’m disgusted by the knowledge that senators sitting on the board of my university are also advising the fossil fuel industry, contributing to the climate disaster and thus putting millions of lives at risk” said Dale Mullin from Fossil Free UQ.

Students at UNSW, UQ and Monash are holding protest events today, calling attention to the findings of the report and urging their campus to divest.  Find images from these events as they happen here


The University of Queensland received $31million from the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) and the university’s senate includes three non-executive directors of Senex Energy, Metro Mining and Queensland Investment Corporation, (owner of Epic Energy and Lochard Energy) and a former Queensland Resources Council Board Member and recipient of the Queensland Resources Council Medal.

The University of Newcastle received $13 million from ACARP. It’s council has two former directors of Newcastle Port Corporation, the world’s biggest coal port, who are also former employes of Caltex and BHP. The council also has a non-executive director of Oil Search and the university’s Hunter Research Foundation Centre has a long list of fossil fuel sponsors.  

The University of NSW received $5 million from ACARP and has one non-executive director of Origin Energy and Orica on its council.

University of Wollongong received $7million from ACARP.

Monash University received $1.5 million and has a non-Executive Director of Rio Tinto and a former Shell employee of 19 years standing on its council.  

University of Sydney

The chancellor is a non-executive director for AGL.

Deakin University

The chancellor is non-executive director of AGL.

University of Melbourne

Peter Cook Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage Research is partnered with Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, and CO2CRC.
Information on Fossil Free divestment commitments: