When classes start in September at Goldsmiths, University of London, there will be no beef or beef products available on campus. The beef-ban is part of the university’s initiative to become carbon neutral by 2025, according to its website. This means its activities will release net zero carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
The school will also impose a 10 pence- (12 cent) tax on bottled water and single use plastic cups, with proceeds benefiting the “green student initiative fund”.
The announcement follows an increase in the global conversation around the relationship between human diets and climate change, and the introduction of meat alternatives to mainstream food chains: Burger King now offers the “Impossible Burger,” and Subway recently announced a “Beyond Meat” meatball sub. Earlier this month, lawmakers in Germany proposed an increase on the tax on meat to decrease the country’s meat consumption.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change explained in a press release last week how certain dietary choices use more resources, resulting in greater emissions. Diets with plant-based foods and sustainably-produced animal-sourced foods result in lower emissions and “present major opportunities for adaptation to and limiting climate change,” says Debra Roberts of the IPCC.
Across the globe, livestock results in 14.5 to 18 percent of “human-induced” greenhouse gas emissions, per The New York Times. In a paper titled “Less beef, less carbon,” the National Resource Defense Council reported that producing 1 kg of beef emits 26 kg of carbon dioxide, the highest of all the 197 foods they examined.
Frances Corner, the warden of Goldsmiths, says we are at a “defining moment in global history” and the university joins the ranks of other organizations “to call the alarm and take urgent action to cut carbon use.” Taylor Watson