It is heartening to see organisations and individuals raise their hand to say ‘I’ll make a difference’.
That’s just what happened when Goldsmiths, University of London, announced their intention of becoming carbon neutral by 2025. Earning headlines as the ‘university banning burgers’, Goldsmiths is going much further than that.
‘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.”
Professor Frances Corner, Warden of Goldsmiths
So what’s Goldsmiths’ plan for becoming carbon neutral by 2025?
> Remove all beef products from campus food outlets
> Impose a 10p levy on bottled water and single-use plastic cups with proceeds going into a green student initiative fund
> Install significantly more solar panels across the New Cross campus
> Switch to a 100% clean energy supplier
> Invest in Goldsmith’s allotment and plant in other areas to absorb CO2
> Move its £2.5m endowment investment to the CCLA Charities Ethical Investment Fund, which no longer invests in companies that profit from fossil fuels
Professor Corner is also going to provide better access to curriculum on climate change and how individuals and organisations can reduce carbon emissions.
The university has been working toward sustainability for some time. They recycle on a wide scale across campus. They donate non-perishable food, clothes, shoes and bedding left behind at the end of each term. And they re-home abandoned bicycles.
Whilst they currently emit 3.7 million kg of carbon each year, this is a figure that has come down 10% over the past three years. And they generate 107,000 kWh of renewable energy each year.
Goldsmiths is one of around 200 UK and Irish universities and colleges that are part of the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education (EAUC). The aim of the EAUC is to position sustainability at the heart of each institution’s core strategy.
Since their formation in the 1990s through to today, they have seen the negative impact of unsustainable, short-term actions across the natural and urban landscape. They are committed to the Sustainable Development Goal #4, emphasising the importance of education and learning opportunities for all. And they see the potential for innovation inherent in disruption.
‘Combine dynamic and interconnected students with the knowledge, expertise and passion of institutions’ staff members, along with increasing international collaboration – you have the recipe for not just change, but for transformation.’
Is your university or organisation working toward carbon neutrality? We’d love to hear what they’re doing. Let us know in the comments below or tag us on social.
Hero photo credit Ben Queenborough