Goldsmiths launches roadmap to a ‘green’ recovery

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Goldsmiths, University of London has revealed how it will cut carbon emissions and waste alongside post-Covid-19 rebuilding efforts with the launch of a ‘green recovery plan’.

The comprehensive plan sets out how the university will reach targets such as recycling 50% of its waste by 2021 (recycling 90% by 2025), reducing the carbon impact of travel by 30% by 2023 (reducing by 50% by 2025) that, with other measures, will help to achieve a 30% reduction in its supply chain emissions by 2025.

This builds on a range of commitments Goldsmiths’ made in August 2019 that included removing beef from its menus and becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2025: by reducing emissions from sources it owns or purchases to, for example, provide heat and power to its campus. In the last year it has switched to a 100% renewable electricity supplier and divested from fossil fuel companies.

Goldsmiths also announced it aims to publish plans for ‘greening’ its curriculum by 2021. It will work to embed teaching about the climate emergency across its curriculum drawing on the expertise developed for courses such as MA Politics, Development and the Global South, MA Global Political Economy, and the new MA Art & Ecology.

The College is also supporting community initiatives: a deal with Lewisham-based not for profit organisation Lee Greens will enable local people to order bags of locally-grown organic vegetables online and then pick them up from a shed on the Goldsmiths campus.

As with most universities, the utilities needed to heat and light its campus make up a large proportion (65-70%) of Goldsmiths’ direct carbon emissions: around 3,585 MTCO2e (Metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents) each year. Initiatives such as the recommissioning of a large biomass boiler, starting to upgrade buildings to LED lighting, and installing more solar panels could cut these annual emissions by up to 166 MTCO2e by the end of 2021.

Professor Frances Corner, Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London said: “The global climate emergency has not gone away just because we are all dealing with the impacts of Covid-19. Even as Goldsmiths makes plans, including some tough decisions, about how it will respond to the challenges of the pandemic we must also work with our community to rebuild and make this a ‘green recovery’ that benefits our home borough of Lewisham, one of the most polluted areas of London.”

Stu Meades, Energy and Sustainability Consultant, who has led the carbon-reduction planning at Goldsmiths, said: “Other universities could learn a lot from the comprehensive approach to cutting carbon emissions being pioneered at Goldsmiths. While there are ‘easy wins’ that make any organisation look good it’s much harder to embed long-term change in ‘business as usual’ activity. Goldsmiths’ plan is unusual in that, beyond its carbon neutral pledge for scope 1 and 2 emissions, it also looks at how it can operate to reduce indirect carbon emissions from its supply chain – something that I haven’t heard of many other universities doing in a serious and comprehensive manner.”

See full details of the Goldsmiths Green New Deal plan