Univer­sity bans beef to fight cli­mate change

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Camilla Turner ED­U­CA­TION ED­I­TOR

Beef has been taken off the menu at a univer­sity as part of its ef­forts to fight cli­mate change. From next month, Gold­smiths, Univer­sity of Lon­don will re­move all beef prod­ucts from its shops and cafés. Prof Frances Cor­ner, the col­lege war­den, said that “declar­ing a cli­mate emer­gency can­not be empty words”. Stu­dents will also face a 10p levy on bot­tles of wa­ter and sin­gle-use plas­tic cups as part of a drive by the univer­sity to be­come car­bon neu­tral by 2025.

THEY were once re­garded as sta­ples of the stu­dents’ canteen, but now burg­ers, lasagne, chilli and tacos have been taken off the menu at a univer­sity that has banned beef as part of its ef­forts to fight cli­mate change.

From next month, Gold­smiths, Univer­sity of Lon­don has said it will re­move all beef prod­ucts from its shops and cafés. Stu­dents will also face a 10p levy on bot­tles of wa­ter and sin­gle-use plas­tic cups when the aca­demic year starts to dis­cour­age use of the prod­ucts.

It is part of a drive by the univer­sity to be­come car­bon neu­tral by 2025, which in­volves in­stalling so­lar pan­els and switch­ing to a “clean” en­ergy sup­plier. Aca­demic cour­ses will also be re­viewed to give stu­dents more op­por­tu­ni­ties to study cli­mate change.

Prof Frances Cor­ner, the war­den of Gold­smiths, said “declar­ing a cli­mate emer­gency can­not be empty words”.

The beef ban is the first an­nounce­ment she has made since tak­ing over as the head of the univer­sity this month.

Prof Cor­ner, who used to be head of the Lon­don Col­lege of Fash­ion, has cham­pi­oned eth­i­cal de­signs and de­scribes her­self as a “fash­ion ac­tivist”.

She has pre­vi­ously warned of the dan­gers of wear­ing fake fur, ar­gu­ing that it makes wear­ing real fur “cul­tur­ally ac­cept­able”.

Prof Cor­ner said: “The grow­ing call for or­gan­i­sa­tions to take se­ri­ously their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for halt­ing cli­mate change is im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore. Though I have only just ar­rived, it is im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous that our staff and stu­dents care pas­sion­ately about … our en­vi­ron­ment and that they are de­ter­mined to help de­liver the change we need.” The beef ban was praised by ac­tivists but else­where it was crit­i­cised as “an overly sim­plis­tic ap­proach”.

Stu­art Roberts, vice-president of the Na­tional Farm­ers’ Union, said there was a “lack of un­der­stand­ing or recog­ni­tion be­tween Bri­tish beef and beef pro­duced else­where”.

He said the union has been en­cour­ag­ing pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions, such as uni­ver­si­ties, to back Bri­tish farm­ing and source lo­cally pro­duced food.

“Tack­ling cli­mate change is one of the great­est chal­lenges of our time but sin­gling out one food prod­uct is clearly an overly sim­plis­tic ap­proach,” he said.

“Our stan­dards of beef pro­duc­tion are among the most ef­fi­cient in the world, with live­stock graz­ing in ex­ten­sive, grass-based sys­tems, mean­ing a green­house gas foot­print two and a half times smaller than the global aver­age.

“Any­one want­ing to play their part in help­ing our planet should buy Bri­tish, lo­cally pro­duced beef, reared to some of the world’s high­est and en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able stan­dards.”

Gold­smiths is the lat­est univer­sity to al­ter its menu in an at­tempt to cut its car­bon foot­print. Cam­bridge Univer­sity’s ca­ter­ing ser­vices have not served any beef or lamb since 2016 and are “pro­mot­ing the con­sump­tion of more veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan foods”, though meat is still served by col­leges.

Mean­while, Ul­ster Univer­sity, the Univer­sity of East Anglia and a num­ber of col­leges at Ox­ford and Cam­bridge have in­tro­duced “meat-free Mon­days”. Dave Gorman, direc­tor of sus­tain­abil­ity at Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity, said 40 per cent of the op­tions in cam­pus cafes were veg­e­tar­ian or ve­gan and they aimed to in­crease this to 50 per cent.

West­min­ster Univer­sity has a “part-time car­ni­vore loy­alty card”, whereby stu­dents who have pur­chased four veg­e­tar­ian meals in the canteen get their fifth veg­e­tar­ian meal for free.

Un­der Prof Frances Cor­ner, Gold­smiths Univer­sity will no longer serve any beef prod­ucts in its shops and cafes

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