ThisÂ month Benâ€™s beenÂ talking to RFOÂ leaders and Creative Scotland officers aboutÂ ways to reduce their climate impactsÂ and whyÂ theyâ€™ve only got a limited amount of time to do it.Â
Iâ€™ve spent the lastÂ 10Â days travelling the country running discussions with (mostly) the leaders of arts, screen and creative industry organisations that receive three-year funding from Creative Scotland, and some of the Creative Scotland officers who work with the 121 Regular Funded Organisations or, as theyâ€™re known, RFOs. We planned these discussions in the light of the increasing public awareness of the climate emergency, the challengingÂ targets in the Climate Change Bill going through the Scottish Parliament and the fact that RFOs are beginning to think about their applications for the next round of three-year funding, which will take them up to 2024 or 2025. They need to start thinking now about actions they can take to reduce their climate impacts up to the middle of the next decade.Â
The response from the cultural sector toÂ ourÂ invitation was very encouraging: over 100 people will have participated by the last session in early August.Â They represent about half of the RFOs andÂ a similar proportion ofÂ Lead Officers. Moreover, whilst Creative Carbon Scotland has generally found it easy to work with Green Champions,Â weâ€™ve had less success in getting the attention of their managers. This time it was quite different, and I receivedÂ manyÂ emails both before and after the sessions saying how this was just the right timeÂ forÂ discussions aboutÂ reducing their climate impacts.Â
I was keen to involve both RFOs and their Creative Scotland counterparts in the discussions so that when those Regular Funding applications arrive at Creative Scotland in due course,Â itÂ wonâ€™tÂ be aÂ great surpriseÂ whenÂ RFOs say theyâ€™re changing their organisational models or programmes forÂ environmentalÂ reasons. And this reflectsÂ one of the main conclusions from the sessions:Â partnership working, often with new partners,Â is requiredÂ so thatÂ cultural organisations (along with everyone else)Â canÂ achieveÂ the significantÂ reductions in carbon emissions.Â
The shape of the discussions
In the course of the sessions I took the groupsÂ throughÂ theÂ Scottish Governmentâ€™s new targetsÂ forÂ Scotland to reduce emissions ofÂ greenhouse gasesÂ (GHGs)Â to â€˜net-zeroâ€™Â by 2045. These targetsÂ are based on theÂ IPCCâ€™sÂ calculationÂ that, after taking into account the GHGs we have added to the atmosphere already,Â globally weÂ can only addÂ betweenÂ 420 and 580Â GigatonnesÂ (Gt)Â moreÂ climate crisis-causingÂ carbon dioxide and otherÂ GHGsÂ if we want toÂ keep the global temperature rise toÂ a maximum ofÂ 1.5Â°C.Â As many GHGs remain in the atmosphereÂ more or less indefinitely, thisÂ â€˜carbonÂ budgetâ€™Â is theÂ totalÂ amount of GHGsÂ thatÂ humansÂ canÂ everÂ safelyÂ add to the atmosphere, not just aÂ temporaryÂ cap.Â WithÂ annualÂ globalÂ emissionsÂ currentlyÂ atÂ 42Â GtÂ this givesÂ us only a few years toÂ make the change.Â Â
I alsoÂ explained the slightly nebulous concept of â€˜net-zeroâ€™. Whilst some GHG emissions are inevitable, Scotland has theÂ advantage that weÂ have lots of space to plant more trees andÂ world-class peat bogsÂ that we can restore to soak upÂ lots of carbon.Â But these opportunities are limited, and while artists may think their work is crucial to humanity, when the time comesÂ to decide where the last tonne of carbon could be â€˜spentâ€™,Â IÂ feelÂ itâ€™sÂ more likely to go to healthcare or agriculture than keeping a theatre open.Â To this endÂ I referenced the point made by Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the UK Committee on Climate Change, that â€˜Within the UK, a 100% all-GHG target sends a clear signal that all greenhouse gases matter and all need to be reduced. No sources of emissions can qualify for special treatment. All emissions from all sectors must be eliminated or offset with removals.â€™Â (UKCCC Net Zero report May 2019 p17)Â
It can be different
TheÂ current crisis is as much a result of recent history as the remoter past.Â As David Wallaceâ€“Wells points out inÂ The Uninhabitable Earth, we have emitted more greenhouse gasesÂ globallyÂ sinceÂ the 1992 Rio SummitÂ (i.e. sinceÂ we haveÂ knownÂ about the issue).Â But,Â he remains optimistic, and thisÂ stems from the fact thatÂ our currentÂ crisis is a result of just one generationâ€™s failure;Â the spur to action is that we have just one more generation to ameliorate the situation.Â And at the age of 57,Â IÂ canÂ testifyÂ to the fact that the way we live and work now is different to the way weÂ did soÂ at the beginning of my career in the arts in the mid-1980s. So,Â it can be different again in anotherÂ 25 yearsâ€™ timeÂ â€“ but weâ€™llÂ have to move fast.Â These two pointsÂ areÂ important to remember. Itâ€™s often difficult toÂ believeÂ that things can be different to the way they are now, but surely cultural organisations ought to be good at imagining different futures?Â Thatâ€™sÂ what artistsÂ do!Â
Ideas for change
IÂ used another slide fromÂ Chris Starkâ€™s presentationÂ to remind us all that magical technology isnâ€™t going to solve the problem for us: the UKCCC scenarios reckon that 38% of the work to achieve the 1.5Â°C maximum will be achieved by technological meansÂ or new fuels,Â 9% by purely societal/behaviouralÂ changeÂ and the remaining 53% will be a mixture of the two.Â In otherÂ words, weÂ areÂ going to have toÂ fundamentallyÂ change our society.Â
Direct GHG emissionsÂ from cultural organisationsÂ are notÂ large, although the organisations do triggerÂ a similarÂ level ofÂ emissions as audiences travel to their events. But as social,Â as well as cultural institutions,Â they have an influencing role in the way in which they operate as well as through the artistic work they create, present and distribute.Â
In the last part of the sessions,Â theÂ RFO leadersÂ came up with some ideas for changes they could makeÂ thatÂ demonstrate an interest in how climate change intersects with questions of wellâ€“beingÂ andÂ equalities.Â NearlyÂ allÂ of theseÂ require some involvement with partners,Â rangingÂ fromÂ discussions withÂ Creative Scotland and the Scottish GovernmentÂ about reviewing their targets emphasising international travel and increased outputsÂ toÂ working with unlikely bedfellows,Â such as public transport providers,Â and joint working toÂ increase the efficient use ofÂ capital assets. Some ideas are more radical than others and very few areÂ simpleÂ to implement. I should emphasise that this was aÂ quickÂ brainstorming approach, and theÂ projects have not been interrogated or thought through, but here areÂ some of them:Â
- Move toÂ openingÂ fourÂ days aÂ weekÂ to reduce energy usageÂ
- Shift toÂ genuinelyÂ renewableÂ electricityÂ â€“ despite theÂ increasedÂ costsÂ
- Undertake a longâ€“term national capital assets review â€“ i.e. work out what buildings weÂ reallyÂ need, use them collaboratively etc.
- Change model to a â€˜distributed curatorâ€™ so less international travelÂ by a central director, more â€˜on the groundâ€™ expertiseÂ in foreign partsÂ
- More joint programming with other local and distant festivalsÂ
- Joined-up infrastructure planning (for everything from audienceÂ travel to power supplies) with relevant parties (local authorities, transportÂ providers,Â utilities etc.)Â
- Make every other festival a flight-free festivalÂ for artistsÂ
- Shift from reliance on international touring for income generation to working with funders on making UK work payÂ
- Collaborate to get electric hire cars/vans available in ScotlandÂ
- Use an office-less modelÂ to reduce energy use and travelÂ Â
- Reduce the current focus on expos, trade fairs etcÂ asÂ core business:Â weÂ need to find ways to do things differently.Â Use digitalÂ meansÂ to achieve the same ends?Â Â
- Add a â€˜green levyâ€™ to budgets immediately so that we start pricing in the additional costs â€“ and give ourselves, CreativeÂ Scotland andÂ other funders time to understand the implicationsÂ
- Creative ScotlandÂ canÂ help by starting the conversationÂ about core success measuresÂ with other big players, such as theÂ ScottishÂ GovernmentÂ etc.Â
- Work with public transport providers to facilitate sustainable audience travelÂ
- Consolidate back-office provision: storage, services etc.Â
- Car poolingÂ
- SwitchÂ immediatelyÂ to vegetarian catering: no-one would notice!Â
What do you think of these ideas? Do you have others?Â Let me know!
The post Benâ€™s Strategy Blog: Climate thinking-caps on! appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.
Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.
In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.
We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.
Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:
Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the publicâ€™s emotions, values and ideas.
Go to Creative Carbon Scotland
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