University bans beef burgers in quest to go carbon-neutral

12 August 2019

Goldsmiths, University of London today announced measures to become carbon-neutral by 2025 - including banning the sale of beef burgers and investing in renewable energy.

The London university is embarking on a major drive to cut its carbon emissions and is one of a number of universities that declared a “climate emergency” earlier this year.

As part of its plans to become carbon-neutral, all beef products will be removed from sale on campus from the beginning of the 2019 academic year next month.

An additional 10p levy will also be introduced on all bottled water and single use plastic cups to discourage their use with the proceeds being directed towards a green student initiative fund. 

Meanwhile the university will also switching to a clean energy supplier and will be investing in solar panels across the campus.

In addition, it will continue to develop its allotment as well as mapping areas on the campus where planting could help to absorb carbon dioxide. 

Figures showed Goldsmiths emitted 3.7m kg of carbon emissions each year. 

Professor Frances Corner, warden of Goldsmiths, said the commitment to go carbon neutral stemmed from the university’s staff and students who “are determined to help deliver the step change we need to cut our carbon footprint drastically and as quickly as possible.”

She added: “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.” 

The move has been supported by Goldsmiths Students’ Union. President Joe Leam said: "It is clear our university has a huge carbon footprint. The promise to have ended this by 2030 at the latest, with the hope of doing so by 2025, is one which is needed.”

However, NFU vice-president Stuart Roberts criticised the “simplistic approach” of cutting out beef burgers.

He told PA that the union has encouraged public bodies such as schools and universities to back British farming and source their produce locally wherever possible.

"The main issue with this is the lack of understanding or recognition between British beef and beef produced elsewhere. Our standards of beef production in the UK are among the most efficient in the world, with British livestock grazing in extensive, grass-based systems - meaning a greenhouse gas footprint 2.5 times smaller than the global average,” he said.

"Anyone wanting to play their part in helping our planet amid the current climate change challenge we're all facing should buy British, locally produced beef reared to some of the highest and environmentally sustainable standards in the world,” Roberts added.

The move by the university to ban the sale of beef comes just days after the United Nations warned that the way food is produced must change in order to fight climate change.

Experts said diets should shift towards low emission foods such as grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds to cut methane produced by cattle fields.

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