Goldsmiths bans beef in bid to go carbon neutral

New warden of London institution also announces levy on single-use plastic

August 12, 2019
Frances Corner
Source: Ben Queenborough

Goldsmiths, University of London has banned the sale of beef products from campus food outlets in a bid to become carbon-neutral within six years.

The removal of beef products, which will be completed by the start of the new academic year, was one of several measures announced by Goldsmiths after it joined other universities in declaring a “climate emergency”.

The institution is also introducing a 10p levy on bottled water and single-use plastic cups to discourage their use, with the proceeds going into a fund supporting student-led environmental initiatives, and the installation of more solar panels at the New Cross campus.

Frances Corner, Goldsmiths’ new warden, announced the changes in one of her first actions in her new role.

“Declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words. I truly believe we face a defining moment in global history and Goldsmiths now stands shoulder to shoulder with other organisations willing to call the alarm and take urgent action to cut carbon use,” Professor Corner said.

Goldsmiths emitted around 3.7 million kilogrammes of carbon in 2017-18, the most recent year for which data is available, although this has reduced by 10 per cent in three years.

The university said that its endowment fund would, from December, no longer hold investments in companies that generated more than 10 per cent of their revenue from extracting fossil fuels. It is also switching to a 100 per cent clear energy provider, and planning planting to help absorb carbon dioxide.

Curriculum options will also be reviewed to ensure that all students can learn about climate change and how to reduce emissions.

Joe Leam, the president of Goldsmiths Students’ Union, described Professor Corner’s actions as a “brilliant start” to making the university carbon-neutral.

“In the words of Greta Thunberg: ‘Our house is on fire.’ I believe Frances Corner and the university management are realising this and making these changes to put their part of the house fire out,” Mr Leam said.

Goldsmiths is not alone in its aim of becoming carbon neutral: the American University in Washington reached that goal last year. The University of Florida also aims to become carbon neutral by 2025.

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