Goldsmiths bans beef burgers as it declares 'Climate Emergency'

Goldsmiths, University of London, has become the latest UK university to officially declare a 'Climate Emergency', unveiling a string of new sustainability measures to be taken for the new academic year.

Pictured: Goldsmiths' new warden Professor Frances Corner (L) speaking to allotment coordinator and senior lecturer for fine arts Dr Ros Gray (R). Image: Goldsmiths, University of London 

Pictured: Goldsmiths' new warden Professor Frances Corner (L) speaking to allotment coordinator and senior lecturer for fine arts Dr Ros Gray (R). Image: Goldsmiths, University of London 

The University’s new warden, Professor Frances Corner, made the ‘Climate Emergency’ declaration today (12 August) in one of her first moves since taking up the title, which is often referred to as vice-chancellor at other higher education establishments. 

The declaration commits the University, in Lewisham, South London, to becoming a carbon-neutral organisation by 2025.

In order to reach this target, Goldsmiths will switch to 100% renewable energy, sourced partly through third-party contracts and partly through on-site solar generation. Goldsmiths already generates 107,000 KWh of renewable electricity annually in this way.

The University will also continue to invest in identifying areas where planting and habitat creation or restoration could absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Further measures for achieving carbon-neutrality will be developed after a consultation with staff and the student unions.

To complement the University’s new carbon-neutral vision, Corner has introduced a ban on the sale of beef products from campus outlets, due to come into effect at the start of the new academic year next month. She has additionally moved to add a 10p levy to bottled water and single-use plastic cups sold on campus, with funds raised in this way to be earmarked for a green student behaviour change scheme.

“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,” Corner said.

“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.”

In her concluding statement, Corner was likely referring to the fact that bodies representing more than 7,000 universities across the world have now declared a ‘Climate Emergency’. Similar declarations have also been made by the likes of Tate, Ecotricity and numerous local authorities

Divestment drive

Corner is a well-known figure in the green economy, having worked tirelessly for more than two decades to champion sustainability in the fashion and academic sector.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, she has also pledged that, by 1 December, Goldsmiths’ endowment fund will have divested entirely from companies which generate more than 10% of their revenue from fossil fuels.

The move comes shortly after the University of Cambridge agreed to provide fully costed plans setting out how it could divest multibillion-pound endowments from fossil fuel corporations.

More broadly, 24 of the world’s largest investors are believed have collectively excluded coal from $6trn in assets over the past three years, as the trend towards divestment from carbon-heavy projects and products continues.

Sarah George


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