Proving that it’s all about higher planetary commitment, as well as higher learning, Goldsmiths has become the first university in the UK to ban that most environmentally unfriendly of meats: beef.
From the start of the new term next month, steak will be stamped out and beefburgers given the boot on campus, in order to help the University of London college cut its annual 3.7 million kilogram carbon footprint to zero in the next six years. The president of Goldsmiths’ students’ union, Joe Leam, called it a “bold move. 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.”
Other environmental measures include switching to a 100 per cent renewable energy supplier, installing more solar panels, and charging a 10p levy on bottled water and single-use plastic cups.
Professor Frances Corner, the new warden of Goldsmiths, said the move was intended to show the university was serious about its responsibilities in the face of the climate emergency. “Declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words,” she said. “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.”
In terms of water use, climate damage and amount of protein produced, beef is the worst kind of meat. Scientists have calculated that producing 1kg of meat is equivalent to generating the equivalent of 1 tonne of carbon dioxide. Others have mooted a tax to reflect the true cost of beef. So if you’re going to give up one type, then make it this one.
MFM founder Paul McCartney recently threw his weight behind a new campaign, #NoBeef launched by the environmentalist Matthew Shribman. It aims to encourage people to give up beef in order to combat deforestation, reduce greenhouse gases and preserve water. Paul said: “#NoBeef highlights the science behind moving towards a world without dependence on farmed animals and is a step in the right direction to a more sustainable future.”
It’s a step many more universities – indeed, businesses, schools, families and individuals – will have to take if Britain and the world is to get to grips with its carbon emissions. Young people in universities across the British Isles have been busy pushing for change and persuading their fellow students to act in the interest of the planet. The University of the West of England launched a #PlantBasedPlanet campaign earlier this year, to encourage students to eat less meat, while Ulster and UEA last year joined a growing number of institutions in adopting Meat Free Monday.