Sheffield Uni hosts world’s biggest oil companies weeks after declaring climate emergency

One student called it ‘shocking’


The Uni of Sheffield has become embroiled in another environmental row for inviting the world's biggest oil companies to campus just weeks after declaring a "climate emergency".

Bosses have been accused of "rank hypocrisy" for hosting Exxon Mobil and BP, the oil giants behind some of the worst environmental disasters, at Launchpad careers festival.

It comes less than a month after UoS vice-chancellor Koen Lamberts proclaimed a "climate emergency" as he unveiled compulsory climate change lectures for all students, despite himself spending £9,000 in six months on a chauffeur car.

The university confirmed, when questioned by The Tab Sheffield, that they made more than £2000 from Exxon Mobil, BP and BAE Systems at Launchpad, as each company paid £675 for a stall.

The decision to invite the companies to Launchpad, a three-day event in the Octagon that began on Monday, has sparked fury online.

"The event has turned out to be a horror show rather than a careers fair," said Nathan Strathdee, an Engineering student at the uni.

"It's stupifying that Sheffield Uni have declared a climate emergency yet are providing a platform for Exxon Mobil and BP, oil companies responsible for the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon disasters."

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill saw 4 million BP oil barrels emptied into the Gulf of Mexico and killing 11 workers. While in 1989, Exxon Valdez, a ship run by Exxon Mobil, spilled up to 30 million US gallons of crude oil into Alaskan seas.

Climate group People and Planet told The Sheffield Tab: "There's one easy way for the University of Sheffield to avoid such rank hypocrisy on the climate crisis: stop inviting these companies to campus."

Biology student Marta Nowicka tweeted: "Divestment is not just about money profits, but also inviting polluters to be present in the uni vicinity. @sheffielduni this is not about vilifying students interested in them, but about your social responsibility."

Also present at the careers event is BAE Systems, an arms company that supplies weapons for the war in Yemen, where some 230,000 civilians have been killed.

It is the latest spotlight to be shone on the university's climate credentials, after The Tab Sheffield revealed that VC Lamberts spent £9,000 on a private car during his first six months in charge.

The university chief, who is paid £285,000 a year, also spent more than £1,200 of students' tuition fees on gas for a uni-owned mansion that he lived in for free between November 2018 and April 2019.

In September Lamberts announced that compulsory sustainability lectures would be embedded into every course curriculum within the next five years.

The findings prompted the University and College Union to criticise Sheffield Uni bosses for a "lack of self-awareness" in thinking there is "one rule for those at the top and another for everyone else."

The institution also faced criticism in March for failing to meet a 2015 promise to divest fully from fossil fuels, as official accounts showed more than £1 million of investments in three oil companies.

The University of Sheffield said it was "committed" to offering students career fair opportunities.

A spokesperson added: "Our recruitment fairs offer students an important and effective opportunity to meet with potential future employers so that they can make informed choices about their future careers.

“We recognise that the climate emergency facing us demands urgent action and that many companies need to change the way they operate."