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A Green New Deal for Goldsmiths by 2020
We live in urgent times. In October, 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a special report stating that we have only 12 years to avert catastrophic global warming. If we want to have a reasonable chance of staying under 1.5C, we need to cut global emissions in half by 2030, and reach net-zero by mid-century.
We recognise that this crisis - which has its roots in colonialism and ongoing forms of corporate imperialism - 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 Anthropology
Dr Ros Gray, Art
Dr Wood Roberdeau, Visual Cultures
Ms. Asli Uludag, Visual Cultures
Dr Pauline von Hellermann, Anthropology
Imani Jacqueline Brown, Masters Candidate, Centre for Research Architecture
Dr Katherine Robinson, Sociology
Dr Prof Eyal Weizman Visual Cultures
Dr Charlotte Joy, Anthropology
Dr Henrike Donner, Anthropology
Dr Isaac Marrero Guillamon, Anthropology
Dr Shela Sheikh, Dept of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Dr Helen Cornish, Anthropology
Susan Kelly, Art Department
Dr Ele Carpenter, Art Department
Ms, Johanna de Verdier, Computing
Mx Jake Roberts, Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Grace Collins, Art Department
Nicole Wolf, Visual Cultures
Astrid Schmetterling, Visual Cultures
Dr. Helen Pritchard, Computing
Silvia Bombardini, Visual Cultures
Miss Natasha Key, Anthropology
Professor Kristen Kreider, Dept Art
Donald Weber, Visual Cultures
Jack Attewell, Politics
Rachel O'Reilly, Phd Student, Centre for Research Architecture
Mr Sam Plagerson, Art MPhil/PhD
Dr Alice Andrews, Department of Visual Cultures
Mr Rudi Christian Ferreira, Visual Cultures
Felix Hunt, Visual Cultures
Miss Charlotte Weston, Anthropology and Media
Sarah Nankivell, Programme Manager, Forensic Architecture, Visual Cultures
Dr Jenny Doussan, Visual Cultures
Dr Sam McAuliffe, Visual Cultures
Kate Pickering, Art
Dr Simon Barber, CRA
Mr David Burns, Visual Cultures
Dr Jorella Andrews, Visual Cultures
Dr Tamar Steinitz, English and Comparative Literature
Tom Trevatt, Visual Cultures
Dr. Paolo Plotegher, Visual Cultures
Dr. Jean-Paul Martinon, Visual Cultures
Mr Nick Masterton, Visual Cultures
Lachlan Kermode, Forensic Architecture (Visual Cultures)
Grace Quah, Researcher, Visual Cultures
Ifor Duncan, Centre for Research Architecture, Visual Cultures
Talia Woodin, Anthropology
Miss Erica Deluchi, Centre for Research Architecture
Tom Clark, Art
Mr. Francesco Sebregondi, Visual Cultures
Christina Varvia, Visual Cultures
Miss Anna Garrett, MFA Fine Art
Aron Rossman-Kiss, Fine Art
Prof. Matthew Fuller
Dr. Mijke van der Drift, MCCS
Tessel Janse, Media and Communications
Dr D Asquith, MCCS
Dr Marina Vishmidt, MCCS
Dr Milly Williamson, Media Communication and Cultural Studies
Dr Isobel Harbison, Art Dept
Gwil Hughes, MFA FA
Shruti Desai, Dept of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Rodrigo B. Camacho, ICCE
Peter Ainsworth, Visual Cultures
Sasha Litvintseva, Associate Lecturer and PhD Candidate, Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Miss Hannah Engelhardt, Media Communication and Cultural Studies
Richard Smith, Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Prof. Natalie Fenton, MCCS
Miss Tara Benjamin-Morgan, Fine Art
MFA in Curating, Art Department
Laura Plant, MFA Curating
Leanne Benford, MCCS
Rachel Reid, Politics Dept, MA Art & Politics
Kaiya Waerea, Design
Mary Claire Halvorson, TaLIC
Marleen Boschen, Media, Comms & Cultural Studies
Dimitra Gkitsa, Visual Cultures
Gholam Khiabany, MCCS
Ms Amanda Kipling, Educational Studies
Nick Granata, Art
Ian Hunt, Art
Miss Valentine Comar, Visual Cultures
Louise Ashcroft, Tutor on BA Art
Prof. Michael Newman, Art
Lucia Mesa, Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Lecturer Fine Art, Annie Whiles, Art Dept
Miss Alexia Nogacz Xavier, Department of Media, Communications & Cultural Studies
Dr Gilda Williams, Senior Lecturer, MFA Curating
Ms Joanna Wright, Anthropology
Mr Louis Boffy, Anthropology
Mrs McAleer Media, Communication and Cultural Studies
Miss Isobel Morshead Music
Conrad Leaton Gray, Anthropology
Nye Conant, BA Design
Mr Callum Duncan, Media and Sociology
MR Antony Ryder, Theatre
Miss Heather Blore, Music
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