Paige Insalaco argues that the Goldsmith’s campus beef ban was the kind of institutional leadership we need to combat the climate crisis and that Exeter uni should follow suit.
Climate change, like many other things, is becoming almost impossible to ignore. Action needs to be taken. Thus Goldsmiths, University of London, has announced that they’ve banned the sale of beef on campus in an attempt to become carbon neutral by 2025. This move comes when multiple universities including Exeter and Cambridge have also declared a state of emergency and when calls for action are loudest. Goldsmiths’ acknowledgement of their responsibility should be commended and followed; they’re implementing drastic change. In line with this, the university has also announced they’ll introduce a 10p levy on single-use plastics and will switch to a clean energy provider further publicising the changes we should be making individually as well as institutionally.
Personally, I think the introduction of this new masters programme is an unsatisfactory change on the part of Exeter. With only a fraction of the student population learning and benefiting from this, how could it possibly make a marked difference?
The unsustainability of the meat industry has remained prominent in the media through movies such as ‘Cowspiracy’ and the drastic rise in veganism. Not only does the production of beef produce 105kg of greenhouse gasses per 10kg, but the transportation, refrigeration and the overuse of land for grazing are also having a drastic impact on the planet. In this sense, Goldsmiths have lessened the demand for beef and have enforced the importance of changing habits in order to make a difference. Of course, this raises the question of how much of a difference this decision will make. Perhaps this has just been a valuable opportunity for Goldsmiths to gain publicity and, in the process, make personal decisions for their students. My take on the matter is that publicity stunt or not, Goldsmiths are acting on their statements. Already, Cambridge University has followed in their footsteps and pledged to cut beef and lamb from its college menus and the amount of vegan options on sale at Leeds University is increasing. Changes are being made across the country to help educate students on how their consumption of beef affects the environment. Students are still in a position to go out and purchase beef if they wish to, but Goldsmiths has taken the action to cut their carbon footprint and have provided their students with the opportunity to change their habits.
Exeter is among the universities to acknowledge the climate crisis by declaring a climate emergency, however, in comparison to Goldsmiths, barely any change has been implemented. Although the university has pledged to work with experts to try and bring about change, the only visible difference is the introduction of the MSc in Global Sustainability. Personally, I think the introduction of this new masters programme is an unsatisfactory change on the part of Exeter. With only a fraction of the student population learning and benefiting from this, how could it possibly make a marked difference? Perhaps Exeter could follow in the footsteps of Sheffield University and introduce sustainability modules across all degrees. Still, despite the number of universities implementing change and the abundance of research already published on the devastating effects of the beef industry, the university continues to sell it on campus and include it in its catered menus. Hopefully, Exeter will become aware of the changes it should be making and the dramatic effects these changes could have on the environment. Due to this, the drastic changes Goldsmiths have implemented are overall incredibly positive. With one decision, they’re positively impacting the planet, educating their students on the importance of sustainability, creating more money in their budget and gaining positive publicity. If Exeter were to introduce something like this I think we would all benefit from making healthier decisions for ourselves and for the environment. At a time when climate change is spiralling out of control, profound change by both individuals and large organisations is the only way we’re ever going to be able to make a difference.