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Clean Energy Switch: Students call for university to clean up its act

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Launched earlier this year, UoS Clean Energy Switch is a student-led campaign asking the University of Sheffield to switch its energy supplier to a more sustainable, carbon neutral source.

The university has already committed to "consider the viability" of switching to an ultra-low carbon supplier in its October 2018 Sustainability Strategy.

The existing contract, which is up for renewal in April this year, currently relies on a biomass-powered generator.

Despite once being touted as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels, the burning of biomass fuel actually emits as much carbon dioxide as the burning of coal.

Izaak Bosman, an English Literature student and campaigner involved in the Clean Energy Switch initiative, said the response from the university has been positive.

According to him though, academic organisations have a particular responsibility to pave the way in cutting down emissions and making a positive contribution to the environment.

"At the end of the day, the real issue lies in the abuse of power from larger companies and institutions," said Bosman. "The university has a real opportunity going forward to position itself at the forefront of a green energy revolution."

The best way of feeling like you're in control is to pick your target

Fellow campaigner Pete Nolan was keen to stress the importance of both individual and group action in combatting climate change.

But he also pointed out that groups like UoS Clean Energy Switch are able to use their lobbying power to create change on a far bigger scale than the size of the group.

"We're a group of students, and within three or four months we've gone from an idea to a fully-fledged, well-oiled operation that is going to make real change," Nolan said.

"The best way of feeling like you're in control is to pick your target," he continued. "So for us, the university is large enough that it makes a big difference, but it's small enough that we feel we can have an impact."

A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield thanked the Clean Energy Switch campaign for their input and assistance in thinking about green energy.

"The University of Sheffield wants to get as much of its energy as possible from green energy suppliers," they told Now Then.

"We are talking to our energy consultants about the best ways to support this, taking all our needs and commitments into consideration."

Harry Gold

You can read UoS Energy Switch's response to Sheffield University's Sustainability Strategy on their website.

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