Breaking: 7 Washington University Students Arrested Protesting Peabody Coal
On the heels of an earlier arrest of a student at a growing divestment blockade at Harvard University, seven Washington University students were arrested today in St. Louis, as they sought to enter the quarterly meeting of the Board of Trustees.
Today's action followed a historic 17-day sit-in at the St. Louis campus, where hundreds of Washington University students have joined in a campaign to remove Peabody Energy CEO Greg Boyce from the Board of Trustees, as part of other demands to cut university ties with the coal industry giant.
World renowned author Margaret Atwood, appearing yesterday to accept the Arts First award at Harvard, summed it up best at an open forum when asked about the protest: "Any society where arrest is preferable to open dialog is a scary place."
According to Washington University student Caroline Burney, nearly 100 students rallied in front of the Knight Center, where the Board of Trustees meeting was being held, and then marched to the main doors of the building. Students were faced by a line of police, locked arms, and stated that they were not leaving until they were let into the building to speak with Greg Boyce about his role at the University and on the Board of Trustees. After about forty minutes of singing and chanting, seven students were arrested by St. Louis County Police
"I am proud to be standing up to Peabody Coal today," said Julia Ho, one of the students who was arrested. "For too long, fossil fuel corporations have used their partnerships with universities to legitimize their destructive and unjust business practices. That must stop. Students across the country are fighting back against the fossil fuel industry and will keep fighting back until until fossil fuels are off of our campuses."
"It's really obvious that Washington University is on the wrong side of history," said Dr. Bret Gustafson, an associate professor of sociocultural anthropology at Washington University. "On top of the concerns of coal, global warming, and the unethical practices of Peabody Coal, the student protests are also raising the issue of the corporate takeover of university spaces, and the threat to academic freedom. That was made visible today."
"Today's arrests are part of a larger fight against Peabody Coal in St. Louis, across the country, and around the world," said Caroline Burney, with Students Against Peabody Energy. "We're here for ourselves and for all of the other communities that Greg Boyce and Peabody Coal have destroyed, including including Rocky Branch, Illinois and Black Mesa, Arizona. Our fight will continue here in St. Louis at next week's Peabody shareholder's meeting and in Black Mesa at the end of May."
Added Gustafson, an alumni of Harvard University, where a similar divestment protest and blockade is underway, "It's amazing the administration is not willing to give an inch. But they're wrong if they think they can just arrest a few students and this will go away. This is the first wave of a rising tide, and just the beginning of a longer struggle."
In a press release, the Students Against Peabody Energy reiterated their charges against Boyce's role as Peabody representative on the Washington University Board of Trustees:
The students point to several of Peabody's recent actions as the impetus for their campaign. Peabody Coal is currently trying to take over a second community road for its mining operations in Rocky Branch, Illinois. Peabody lobbyists are also attempting to gut The Take Back St. Louis ballot initiative and local democratic processes by inserting amendments into two Missouri House bills that would ban cities or other municipalities from "by ballot measure impos[ing] any restriction on any public financial incentive authorized by statute." Peabody is also a key leader in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is currently meeting in Kansas City and facing large scale protests from unions and other progressive organizations.
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By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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