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Ethics: Burning questions

Image: Grace Gay for Resarch Professional News

Universities are debating whether to stop shaking hands with the fossil fuel industry

In February 2022, the University of Milano-Bicocca proudly announced a major new initiative pursuing research projects on geothermal energy, battery technology and other areas designed to help the world to transition away from fossil fuels. About nine months later, one of its climate change researchers resigned from his leadership role at the institution.

The social scientist quit as head of a research unit dedicated to work on climate change because the university’s scheme is run jointly with Italian energy company Eni, which works in oil and gas, as well as renewables. Marco Grasso, who remains a professor at Milano-Bicocca, tells Research Europe that there would have been an “intrinsic inconsistency” to continue leading the unit’s climate research efforts while the university supports its agreement with Eni.

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