Board asks aviation coalition to remove TU/e logo from manifesto

TU/e’s Executive Board has asked the aviation coalition to remove the university logo from a manifesto aimed at making aviation more sustainable.

The manifesto was not well received by everyone because it is said not to be in line with the Paris climate targets and is being used as a lobbying document in The Hague. The aviation coalition brings together a large number of parties from the aviation sector. In the manifesto “future-proof aviation for the Netherlands”, they present a ten-point plan for making aviation more sustainable, with proposals such as: quieter flights, good labor conditions and investment in sustainable fuels. The coalition includes companies such as KLM, but not Schiphol. 

At TU/e, opinions were divided. Director of Smart Mobility Carlo van de Weijer was in favor of participation in the aviation coalition, while professor of Climate Change Heleen de Coninck had fundamental objections. “TU/e hasn’t done much in the field of aviation so far, but with electric flying and the development of new aircraft fuels we can really make a significant contribution to this domain,” said Van de Weijer in an earlier article. In contrast, De Coninck argued: “On the face of it, the measures [...] don’t seem enough to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, let alone achieve the required climate neutrality.”

Discussions also arose at other universities. A TU Delft alumnus started a petition calling on universities to withdraw from the aviation coalition. Cursor readers sent letters arguing that TU/e should leave the coalition. “It’s an attempt at greenwashing,” one of them concluded. 

In its statement, the Executive Board emphasizes that TU/e wants to continue to contribute to technology and innovation in order to make aviation more sustainable, but that it has not made a “formal decision” regarding support for the manifesto. The fact that the logo still appeared on the manifesto, according to the Executive Board, was due to an “unfortunate course of events” and “misunderstanding”. Read the Board’s full statement below. 

Statement TU/e Executive Board

“The TU/e Executive Board agrees with the general direction of the pamphlet Future-proof aviation for the Netherlands, in which the aviation sector outlines its ambition to achieve cleaner and quieter aviation in 10 points.

 We consider it important to do our part in making the aviation sector more sustainable, as the sector is faced with an exceptional challenge in terms of improving sustainability and is in dire need of research and innovation in order to achieve this. This involves areas of expertise that align well with our expertise at TU/e. As such, we can and want to contribute to this.

However, we note that the TU/e logo has been placed on the aviation pamphlet as one of the endorsers of the document without a formal decision having been made by the Executive Board on support for the piece. For this reason, we have asked that our logo be removed from the pamphlet. Explicit university support for a vision, proposal or plan, as well as the use of our name or logo in such a context, is only possible following a formal decision by the Executive Board.

An unfortunate course of events has caused some internal misunderstanding regarding possible support for some time. We are drawing lessons from this and will manage such processes more actively in the future, focusing on a clear and well-considered outcome. 

However, this does not alter the fact that we recognize the broad ambitions set out in the pamphlet and that we, as TU/e, will continue to contribute to the innovation needed to make the aviation sector more sustainable.”

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