Friday, August 23, 2019

Where's the Beef?

Where’s the Beef?
Right, just in case you're on holiday and wondering what to do to fill the time here's another episode of the Sustainable Futures Report and this one is for Friday, 23 August.
What’s going on?
Yes I'm Anthony Day and I'm continuing to share my thoughts on sustainability and I'm delighted to see that so many of you, indeed more than ever, are listening to this podcast. I mentioned last time that Julia Hartley Brewer of Talk Radio wanted to know what I thought about the decision of Goldsmith College to ban beef. 
I recorded the interview and created this episode and congratulated myself on getting it all set up and ready to roll a whole four days in advance. And then Talk Radio rang me again, (Isn’t it time they gave me my own programme?) and asked if I’d talk to Mike Graham about Elton John flying Harry and family by private jet and whether paying to offset the carbon footprint was just hypocrisy. I recorded that one too. I’ve recovered and re-jigged my original episode, so now you get two for the price of one.
Anyway, here’s how the first interview went. Just remember, to err is human.
Interview Number One

Julia Hartley-Brewer: Right, let's turn our attention back here to Goldsmith College in the University of London. From next month they've said they're going to remove all beef products from their shops and cafes and from the canteen -- no burgers, no lasagna, no chili, no tacos -- all taken off the menu. Why? Well, because they're banning beef as part of efforts to tackle climate change. They're also going to charge students a levy of 10p on bottles of water and single use plastic cups, it's all part of a drive for the university to become carbon neutral by 2025. They're going to install solar panels and switch to a clean energy supplier. Also, they're going to require all academic courses to include studies on climate change. Professor Frances Corner, the Warden of Goldsmiths says, declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words.

Well, is it actually going to achieve anything? Let's talk to Anthony Day, who's an environmental consultant and host of "The Sustainable Futures Report," which is a podcast on environmental issues. Good morning to you Anthony.

Anthony: Good morning.

Interviewer: Good morning. I mean, my first advice to anyone reading this would be if you are planning to go to Goldsmiths, is change to another university and go somewhere sensible. But I do worry there aren't that many other sensible universities. You, however I imagine are very concerned with these issues. You think this is all a good move?

Anthony: Well, I think it's a good thing to raise awareness of the climate crisis. I don't think actually banning beef is going to make a big change on the world scale. But I think that raising the profile is good. I think there's more they could do, of course.

Interviewer: -- often talk about raising profile and this is what the Extinction Rebellion people... And as far as I can tell what they're doing is basically everything Extinction Rebellion has been calling for them to do without any questions.

But they always talk about we need to raise the profile. Good Lord. The world talks about with, well, the world, the western world, the western media talks about nothing but climate change. I can't see you can go half an hour watching the BBC or Sky News or read a national newspaper without being talked to, certainly Radio 4, about climate change with this ongoing, it's almost like a religious cult, talking about the need to do something. I mean, who isn't aware of it yet?

Anthony: Well perhaps not many people. But it's not a question of talking about it, it's doing something. And unfortunately the talk so far hasn't actually led to sufficient action.

Interviewer: But you say that, but in Britain, we know that Britain of all the G20 countries has done more to tackle carbon emissions, has done more to tackle waste, more to do about recycling. There are loads of things that the British government has done not apart from this nonsense zero-net emissions target for 2050, which is obviously slightly less worse than what Extinction Rebellion want. But there's no doubt at all we're moving to renewable energies, no doubt at all there've been loads of efforts to tackle...

When you say nothing's being done, it's not just talk, on the contrary, loads has been done. We pay huge taxes right now on our fuel. We have to pay to buy a plastic bag. There are loads of things being done in terms of action to stop us from adding to carbon emissions.

Anthony: Not nearly enough. Not nearly enough. As you say, the 2050 zero net emissions target is nonsense. It should be much earlier.

Interviewer: Ah I think it's nonsense because I think it's too soon. You think it's nonsense for the other reason.

Anthony: Absolutely, it should be 2030 or even earlier. But we are in a crisis and playing about with plastic bags and beef burgers isn't really going to solve it.

Interviewer: But this is what we do. As you say, it's playing around. And I'm all for let's not have a load of plastic bags thrown into the oceans. And yeah, to be fair, it would appear that we... Life can go on without us all having single use plastic water bottles. But what would you want done then? What do you think say Goldsmiths can do or the government can do, every company, people listening right now should be doing, rather than taking their bag for life to the supermarket? What should they be doing?

Anthony: Well, one of the major things the government can do is an insulation project for the whole of all the houses, all the homes in the country, so that we could cut back by 50% or more the cost of heating. So we can get rid of fuel poverty, we can create jobs as we go through that project of insulating every home. We would cut down on the amount of energy we're using. So obviously that saves every consumer money. That cuts down our carbon footprint. So that's one thing we can do.

At Goldsmiths College I think they ought to insulate all their buildings in the same way. They should discourage staff and students from coming by car. And in fact they could discourage travel altogether by doing more online distance learning courses.

Interviewer: Ah, so basically, yes almost stop existing I would think.

Anthony: No, no, no, no. Just exist in a different way.

Interviewer: Oh yes, but no, come on. Actually being in a university is very very different, isn't it, in terms of as opposed to doing your work online.

Thank you very much. Absolutely fascinating to talk to you. Anthony Day's an environment consultant. He's hosted "The Sustainable Futures Report," that's a podcast on environmental issues. Thank you very much for that.

And then, a couple of days later they wanted me to talk to Mike Graham about flying royalty and whether paying to offset the carbon foot print of the flight was hypocritical. You’ll see that he’s set me some homework.
Interview Number Two
Sorry, no transcript for this section. He was criticising Elton John for flying the royals to his holiday home and then paying for offsets. Mike Graham suggested that offsets were a con because nobody knew where the money went. I’d checked out the organisation that Elton used and identified the projects that the money was spent on. Graham raised more questions:
  • Who checks up on these schemes?
  • How is a tonne of carbon valued?
  • How much does it cost to plant a tree?
I didn’t have an answer to any of these, but agreed to do some research and get back to him. Watch this space.

And that’s it…
Well what was going to be a very brief episode turns out to be a bumper edition. I think I deserve some time off. I’ll be back in September.
Thanks for being a listener and even more thanks if you're patron. I had an online discussion with a number of patrons a few weeks ago and I'm planning another one shortly. If you’d like to take part please let me know. And if you're not already a patron you can find out the full details at

Yes, that's it. I'm Anthony Day, that was the Sustainable Futures Report and there'll be another one very soon.