We recognise that this requires nothing less than a total and rapid reversal of our direction as a civilization. As the co-chair of the IPCC put it, “The next ten years are the most important years in human history.”
And climate breakdown is not the only ecological threat we face. We are overshooting a number of other critical planetary boundaries, and the consequences are severe: our oceans are choked with plastic waste, our soils are being depleted by industrial agricultural chemicals, which threatens food systems and contributes to soil carbon emissions (1), and the speed of extinction is 1,000 times faster than the pre-industrial rate (2).
We cannot wait for governments to act. It is incumbent on us to create change wherever we can, starting with our our own institutions. Universities like Goldsmiths exist to prepare students to thrive in the future. We contravene that mission if, through our institutional behaviour, we contribute to undermining the very possibility of such a future.
This is not a time for small, timid reforms. This is a time for bold and courageous leadership. We, the students and staff of Goldsmiths, unite in calling on our administration to lead by adopting an ambitious five-point plan of action – a Green New Deal – to be implemented by 2020.
Divest Goldsmiths’ endowment from all fossil fuel companies – including oil and gas – and reinvest that money into renewable energy. Many other UK universities have already taken this step, including Edinburgh, Durham, Glasgow, Sussex, SOAS, and dozens of others. We understand that Goldsmiths’ endowment is not large. But this is not about the quantity of money at stake – this is about the principle. Universities have significant moral authority; making a public commitment to divestment sends a powerful signal and helps change norms.
Switch Goldsmiths to a clean energy provider. This is the single most impactful step we can take to reduce our university’s emissions. There are many clean energy providers on the market, including some that already supply to other London universities. In addition, we call on the administration to expand our solar capacity by installing additional panels on all suitable campus buildings.
Shift to lower-carbon foods in campus cafeterias. Beef has the highest carbon emissions per gram of protein of any food by far – 8 times higher than chicken and 60 times higher than beans (3). A number of studies demonstrate that simply switching from beef to lower-carbon foods can accomplish a significant portion of the emissions reductions necessary for us to stay under 1.5C. This is the second most impactful step we can take. We live in a world of brilliant culinary abundance – we don’t need high-carbon foods in order to enjoy healthy and delicious meals on campus.
End the sale of single-use plastics on campus, except where medically required and where suitable alternatives are not available, and phase out plastic bottled water. As plastic bottled water is phased out, a fee should be charged at the till similar to the 5p charge on plastic carrier bags in supermarkets. A similar fee should be charged for single-use cups in cafes, to encourage the use of reusable mugs. The fee can go to a fund supporting student-led green projects.
Regenerate Goldsmiths' land by switching to organic, chemical-free gardening. Extensive use of chemical herbicides on our campus – such as Monsanto-owned glyphosate, a carcinogen – is not only harmful to the health of students and staff, it is gradually depleting our soils, contributing to soil carbon emissions, and destroying the habitats of birds and other animals. We call on the administration to identify areas of the campus that can be regenerated for carbon sequestration and wildlife habitat, including through tree-planting and the creation of meadows, woodpiles and ponds.
(1) "Only 100 harvests left in UK farm soils, scientists warn," Farmers Weekly, 2014.(2) Ceballos et al., "Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2017.(3) Poore and Nemecek, "Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers," Science, 2018.
FIRST 100 SIGNATURES FROM GOLDSMITHS STAFF AND STUDENTS:
Dr Jason Hickel, Department of AnthropologyDr Ros Gray, ArtDr Wood Roberdeau, Visual CulturesMs. Asli Uludag, Visual CulturesDr Pauline von Hellermann, AnthropologyImani Jacqueline Brown, Masters Candidate, Centre for Research ArchitectureDr Katherine Robinson, SociologyDr Prof Eyal Weizman Visual CulturesDr Charlotte Joy, AnthropologyDr Henrike Donner, AnthropologyDr Isaac Marrero Guillamon, AnthropologyDr Shela Sheikh, Dept of Media, Communications and Cultural StudiesDr Helen Cornish, AnthropologySusan Kelly, Art DepartmentDr Ele Carpenter, Art DepartmentMs, Johanna de Verdier, ComputingMx Jake Roberts, Department of Media, Communications and Cultural StudiesGrace Collins, Art DepartmentNicole Wolf, Visual CulturesAstrid Schmetterling, Visual CulturesDr. Helen Pritchard, ComputingSilvia Bombardini, Visual CulturesMiss Natasha Key, AnthropologyProfessor Kristen Kreider, Dept ArtDonald Weber, Visual CulturesJack Attewell, PoliticsRachel O'Reilly, Phd Student, Centre for Research ArchitectureMr Sam Plagerson, Art MPhil/PhDDr Alice Andrews, Department of Visual CulturesMr Rudi Christian Ferreira, Visual CulturesFelix Hunt, Visual CulturesMiss Charlotte Weston, Anthropology and MediaSarah Nankivell, Programme Manager, Forensic Architecture, Visual CulturesDr Jenny Doussan, Visual CulturesDr Sam McAuliffe, Visual CulturesKate Pickering, ArtDr Simon Barber, CRAMr David Burns, Visual CulturesDr Jorella Andrews, Visual CulturesDr Tamar Steinitz, English and Comparative LiteratureTom Trevatt, Visual CulturesDr. Paolo Plotegher, Visual CulturesDr. Jean-Paul Martinon, Visual CulturesMr Nick Masterton, Visual CulturesLachlan Kermode, Forensic Architecture (Visual Cultures)Grace Quah, Researcher, Visual CulturesIfor Duncan, Centre for Research Architecture, Visual CulturesTalia Woodin, AnthropologyMiss Erica Deluchi, Centre for Research ArchitectureTom Clark, ArtMr. Francesco Sebregondi, Visual CulturesChristina Varvia, Visual CulturesMiss Anna Garrett, MFA Fine ArtAron Rossman-Kiss, Fine ArtProf. Matthew FullerDr. Mijke van der Drift, MCCSTessel Janse, Media and CommunicationsDr D Asquith, MCCSDr Marina Vishmidt, MCCSDr Milly Williamson, Media Communication and Cultural StudiesDr Isobel Harbison, Art DeptGwil Hughes, MFA FAShruti Desai, Dept of Media, Communications and Cultural StudiesRodrigo B. Camacho, ICCEPeter Ainsworth, Visual CulturesSasha Litvintseva, Associate Lecturer and PhD Candidate, Media, Communications and Cultural StudiesMiss Hannah Engelhardt, Media Communication and Cultural StudiesRichard Smith, Media, Communications and Cultural StudiesProf. Natalie Fenton, MCCSMiss Tara Benjamin-Morgan, Fine ArtMFA in Curating, Art DepartmentLaura Plant, MFA CuratingLeanne Benford, MCCSRachel Reid, Politics Dept, MA Art & PoliticsKaiya Waerea, DesignMary Claire Halvorson, TaLICMarleen Boschen, Media, Comms & Cultural StudiesDimitra Gkitsa, Visual CulturesGholam Khiabany, MCCSMs Amanda Kipling, Educational StudiesNick Granata, ArtIan Hunt, ArtMiss Valentine Comar, Visual CulturesLouise Ashcroft, Tutor on BA ArtProf. Michael Newman, ArtLucia Mesa, Media, Communications and Cultural StudiesLecturer Fine Art, Annie Whiles, Art DeptMiss Alexia Nogacz Xavier, Department of Media, Communications & Cultural StudiesDr Gilda Williams, Senior Lecturer, MFA CuratingMs Joanna Wright, AnthropologyMr Louis Boffy, AnthropologyMrs McAleer Media, Communication and Cultural StudiesMiss Isobel Morshead MusicConrad Leaton Gray, AnthropologyNye Conant, BA DesignMr Callum Duncan, Media and SociologyMR Antony Ryder, TheatreMiss Heather Blore, Music