UK university bans beef in an effort to tackle climate change
This university is banning the sale of beef in an effort to tackle climate change. Source: Shutterstock

Many universities are playing a big role in the bid to tackle climate change – dubbed the defining issue of our time by UN Secretary-General António Guterres – but are they doing enough to address the critical issue? 

Some universities are tackling climate change in ways that don’t necessarily yield immediate results, such as by conducting research that will result in a low-carbon future. However, others are taking a more proactive approach to the battle.  

Goldsmiths’ (part of the University of London in England) new Warden Professor Frances Corner has announced the university’s ambitious drive for the College to become carbon neutral by 2025. 

This includes banning the sale of beef and bottled water on campus by the start of the 2019 academic year.

Other measures to help them reach this goal include charging a 10p levy on bottled water and single use plastic cups to discourage use (proceeds will go into a green student initiative fund), installing more solar panels across its New Cross campus, switching to a 100 percent clean energy supplier as soon as possible, among other things.

The war on meat

Scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, notes that the West’s high consumption of meat and dairy produce is fuelling global warming, reports the BBC.

Research notes that “the production of beef is around 10 times more damaging to the environment than any other form of livestock” as cows produce more methane and need more land and water than other livestock.

While this doesn’t mean everyone needs to become a vegetarian or vegan, cutting down on one’s meat consumption can prove useful in the fight to tackle climate change.

A growing trend?

While Goldsmiths’ seriousness in tackling climate change is encouraging, other institutions are also stepping up in their own ways, serving as prime examples to other institutions to lead the fight against climate change.

In the US, some medical schools are already incorporating some aspects of climate change education into an already packed curriculum. Advocates of climate-change education believe health care providers must be trained to prevent, detect and treat conditions that may rise or emerge in new places as the climate changes. 

The University of British Columbia in Canada has a Climate Action Plan in its efforts towards sustainability.  

Could more universities follow suit? Only time will tell. 

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