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Goldsmiths axes beef & adds levy to bottled water

Beef burgers and bottled water will be consigned to history on the Goldsmiths, University of London campus from the start of the new academic year next month.

The changes come as part of a major drive to cut carbon use across Goldsmiths as the College joins other universities and institutions in declaring a climate emergency and announcing a determined aim to become a carbon neutral organisation by 2025.

In one of her first moves as the College’s new Warden, Professor Frances Corner has announced major measures to help achieve this ambitious goal, including:

> Removing all beef products from sale from campus food outlets by the start of the 2019 academic year;
> Introducing an additional 10p levy on bottled water and single use plastic cups to discourage use, with the proceeds directed into a green student initiative fund;
> Installing significantly more solar panels across Goldsmiths’ campus in New Cross;
> Switching to a 100% clean energy supplier as soon as practicable;
> Continuing investment in Goldsmiths’ allotment area and identifying other areas where planting could help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere;
> Reviewing how all Goldsmiths students can access curriculum options which investigate the subject of climate change and the role of individuals and organisations in reducing carbon emissions.

A comprehensive action plan will be drawn up in consultation with staff and student unions to enable the College to meet the net zero carbon emissions target over the next six years.

This work will build on existing initiatives, which include a wide scale recycling programme, and termly clear-outs of non-perishable food, good quality clothes, shoes and bedding from Goldsmiths’ student halls of residence. These goods are donated to local charities. Similarly, abandoned bicycles are given away to good homes on an annual basis.

Goldsmiths has also been a longstanding member of the alliance for sustainability leadership in education (EAUC), a group including at least 200 UK and Irish universities and colleges committed to ensuring that education institutions reflect best practice in operational sustainability.

The latest available figures (HESA 2017/18) show Goldsmiths emits around 3.7m Kg of carbon emissions each year – a figure which has reduced almost 10% over three years – while it has consistently generated around 107k KWh of renewable energy each year.

The announcement is accompanied by confirmation that from 1 December 2019, Goldsmiths’ endowment fund will no longer hold investments in companies that generate more than 10% of their revenue from the extraction of fossil fuels.

The College has moved its £2.5m endowment investments to the CCLA Charities Ethical Investment Fund, which has recently decided to divest from companies which derive significant income from fossil fuels.

Corner, pictured right visiting the Goldsmiths allotments with allotment coordinator Ros Gray, said, “The growing global call for organisations to take seriously their responsibilities for halting climate change is impossible to ignore.

'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.

“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.”