Goldsmiths, University of London announced the beef ban Monday as part of a series of steps designed to help the institution, which has declared a climate emergency, go carbon neutral by 2025. Other measures include an extra 10 pence charge for bottled water and single-use plastic cups and the installation of more solar panels on its campus in Southeast London.
Goldsmiths’ new Warden Professor Frances Corner has announced an ambitious drive for the College to be carbon neutral by 2025.— Goldsmiths (@GoldsmithsUoL) August 12, 2019
The plan includes the removal of all beef products from campus outlets and a 10p levy on plastic bottles https://t.co/sYRHZ0gxxa
"Declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words," Goldsmiths' new Warden Prof. Frances Corner said in a statement. "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."
Goldsmiths' announcement comes about a week after a draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommended a global shift towards vegetarian diets in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Agriculture and other land use practices contribute almost 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while cattle and rice fields are responsible for half of all methane emissions, the report found. Another study released last month calculated that beef consumption had to fall in order for Earth's current resources to be able to feed the 10 billion people expected to be living on this planet in 30 years. Europeans would have to eat 22 percent less beef for everyone else to have enough food, the study found.
At least one Goldsmiths student is ready to give up campus burgers for the planet.
"I think it's a really positive move—Goldsmiths is recognising its own power and accountability in being more environmentally conscious," 20-year-old psychology student Isabelle Gosse told The Guardian. "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."
The Goldsmiths Students' Union also supports the decision, HuffPost reported.
The beef ban will go into effect at the start of the coming academic year. The school will also switch to a 100 percent renewable energy supplier as soon as its current contract ends, according to The Guardian. Further, its endowment fund will cease investments in companies that earn more than 10 percent of their revenue from fossil fuel extraction starting December 2019.
"It's encouraging to see an institution like Goldsmiths not simply declaring a climate emergency, but acting on it," Greenpeace UK Climate Emergency Campaigner Rosie Rogers told The Guardian. "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."
Goldsmiths currently emits around 3.7 million kilograms (approximately 8.2 million pounds) of carbon per year, according to figures released by the university. That number is down nearly 10 percent from what it was three years ago, Goldsmiths said.
But for Goldsmiths Students' Union President Joe Leam it's still too high.
"It is clear our university has a huge carbon footprint," he wrote in a blog quoted by HuffPost. "The promise to have ended this by 2030 at the latest, with the hope of doing so by 2025, is one which is needed. Whilst this plan/action is only the beginning, and much work is yet to be done, it is fantastic to see Goldsmiths taking responsibility and responding to its impact on the climate."