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University bans the sale of beef in fight against climate change

From next month, Goldsmiths, University of London has announced it will remove all beef products from its campus cafes and shops as it battles against climate change.

A new 10p levy on bottles of water and single-use plastic cups will also be imposed at the university from the start of the new academic year in an attempt to discourage and reduce the use of the products. The beef ban, imposed by the university's new warden, Professor Frances Corner said "declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words". She added,

“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.”

The ban has received much praise from climate change activists, but it does also have some critics. Stuart Roberts, vice-president of the National Farmers' Union criticised the ban, saying;

"Tackling climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time but singling out one food product is clearly an overly simplistic approach"

"Our standards of beef production in the UK are among the most efficient in the world, with British livestock grazing in extensive, grass-based systems - meaning a greenhouse gas footprint 2.5 times smaller than the global average.

"Anyone wanting to play their part in helping our planet amid the current climate change challenge we're all facing should buy British, locally produced beef reared to some of the highest and environmentally sustainable standards in the world.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 LivePresident of Goldsmiths Students’ Union Joe Leam said “we need a huge intervention, outright change on a vast level”.

The university is not the first to adapt its menu in response to climate change - Cambridge University’s catering services have not served up any beef or lamb since 2016 and a growing number of other universities such as the University of East Anglia have introduced initiatives such as 'Meat Free Mondays'.

Beef and lamb require the largest amount of energy for production compared to other meats. Growing animals to eat accounts for around 18% of all the world's greenhouse gas emissions - that's more than emissions from transportation. Climate campaigners have described moves to reduce beef consumption as encouraging and now hope that more institutions will follow with similar measures.

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