Goldsmiths bans beef from university cafes to tackle climate crisis

University of London college will also seek to limit single-use plastics

A university has banned the sale of beef in campus food outlets in order to help tackle the climate emergency.

Goldsmiths, University of London, is also attempting to phase out single-use plastics and installing more panels to power its buildings in New Cross, as part of a move to become carbon neutral by 2025.

Beef products will no longer be available in the institution’s cafes and shops when the academic year begins in September, while an additional 10p levy will be added to the sale of bottled water and disposable plastic cups to discourage their use.

Prof Frances Corner, who took up the post of Goldsmiths’ warden this month, said the college would also switch to a completely clean energy supplier when its current contract ends and look into how all students could take curriculum options related to the climate crisis.

A psychology undergraduate, Isabelle Gosse, 20, said she thought the move was “a really good start to being more environmentally friendly”.

She added: “I think it’s a really positive move – Goldsmiths is recognising its own power and accountability in being more environmentally conscious.

“Banning the sale of beef meat on campus, phasing out single-use plastics and the other pledges that the new warden has made highlights the current climate emergency that the world is facing.”

Scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet found that avoiding meat and dairy products was the single biggest way to reduce humans’ environmental impact.

Previous research had revealed that the environmental impact of beef dwarfs that of other meat including chicken and pork.

Corner said: “Though I have only just arrived at Goldsmiths, it is immediately obvious that our staff and students care passionately about the future of our environment and that they are determined to help deliver the step change we need to cut our carbon footprint drastically and as quickly as possible.”

From 1 December, Goldsmiths’ endowment fund will also cease to hold investments in companies that generate more than 10% of their revenue from fossil fuel extraction.

Joe Leam, the president of Goldsmiths’ union, said: “Banning beef is a bold move. Phasing out plastics and going to fully renewable energy are brilliant too.

“The aim of being carbon neutral by 2025 is a great aim – let’s hope the management hold true to this. There is always more that can be done – but I think it’s a great start and other institutions should learn from this move.”

Rosie Rogers, a climate emergency campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “It’s encouraging to see an institution like Goldsmiths not simply declaring a climate emergency, but acting on it.

“From energy use, to food sales and plastic pollution – all universities and organisations with campus sites can make changes across their facilities that are better for our planet.

“We call on others to urgently follow suit, and to include cutting all ties from fossil fuel funding in their climate emergency response.”

The university’s pledge comes as part of a growing number of UK universities trying to reduce their carbon footprint.

Last year, the University of Sheffield opened a zero waste shop – selling everything from unpackaged spices and herbs to laundry detergent.

The university, which has also reduced its carbon emissions by 31% since 2005, completely divested from fossil fuel companies in February.

At Cardiff University, students and staff are no longer provided with disposable plastic cups at water fountains, while takeaway coffee cups in its cafes are now recyclable and smoothie cups are compostable.

Manchester Metropolitan University, where 60% of university vehicles are low emission, holds a clothes and book swap each term to encourage sustainable living.


Amy Walker

The GuardianTramp

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