Environmental reporting round-up 2021/22

This year, Creative Carbon Scotland has again supported cultural organisations to measure and manage their environmental impact through our environmental reporting programme.

As part of the journey to net zero by 2045 (at the very latest!), and in collaboration with our arts funding partners, this programme aims to increase environmental stewardship in the sector and drive ambition for transformational change within arts and culture, and beyond.

We received reports this year from 133 organisations across three groups:

  1. Edinburgh Festivals, who are members of Environmental Sustainability Working Group (ESWG)
  2. Organisations receiving revenue funding from the City of Edinburgh Council – Culture Service
  3. Creative Scotland regularly funded organisations (RFOs)
Reporting more data than ever before

Though the sector still has a long way to go before it reaches net zero, this year saw more organisations reporting more data than ever before, laying the groundwork for continuing ambition in emissions reductions in the years to come. Furthermore, we saw organisations taking the lead in the use of influence and storytelling to catalyse change beyond the sector itself. As we head into the fourth year of this most important decade for climate action, we believe that more of this ambition and more of this leadership is required to deliver the transformational change needed.

What do we mean by net zero?

When we refer to ‘net zero’, we follow the lead of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)’s Net-Zero Standard. This focuses on the need to first reduce absolute emissions to limit global temperature increase to 1.5⁰C rather than balance all emissions through offsetting.

It can be a confusing term, but it is the official term used by Scottish government, as well as the IPCC and UNFCCC, which inform and bring together international climate negotiations.

Emissions reporting

To manage their emissions, organisations need to measure and monitor them. That is why we ask all organisations to report on their energy and utilities consumption, waste disposal, and travel emissions.

As we aim for net zero by 2045, we need to see these emissions reducing. The graph shows the total emissions reported by reporting organisations each year since 2019 in tonnes of CO2e. There is a downward trend from over 10,000 tonnes in 2019 to 7819 tonnes this year. Considering that more organisations are now reporting than in 2019 and they are reporting on more emission sources, this is especially impressive. It shows that more RFOs are engaging fully in the process of emissions reporting, building the measurement and reporting of these emissions into their business processes.

Graph showing the total emissions reported by reporting organisations each year since 2019 in tonnes of CO2e.

Here are some further insights from reported emissions:

  • 77% of emissions come from energy and utilities making it by far the largest emissions source for the sector.
  • The second largest source of emissions is travel at 13%. Travel emissions have bounced back from last year but are not at pre-pandemic levels. However, many RFOs indicated that they expect to see travel emissions increase as they ‘return to normal’.
  • Electricity emissions have reduced by 35% since 2019, but absolute consumption has only decreased by 8%. While actions taken by reporting organisations account for that reduction in consumption, the reduction in emissions is mostly due to the overall lower carbon intensity of electricity since there’s now more renewable energy in the national grid.
Carbon management plans

Once organisations are measuring their emissions, they can then use that data to inform their carbon reduction in the form of a carbon management plan. This year, we asked organisations to provide an action plan for the next three years with associated emissions reductions each year. We hoped this approach would encourage organisations to look forward with their carbon management plans and create bold but achievable targets that could be tracked and measured year-on-year.

All but one of the organisations were able to provide detail on actions they planned to take. Here is a word cloud to offer an idea of the themes covered in the actions this year:

Word cloud based on the proposed actions from cultural organisations.

Additionally, we highlight some of the most interesting and impactful planned actions here:

Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) – They have appointed a Creative Change Maker for Climate Action, a role focused on working with artists, arts and cultural organisations, local communities, and regional and national partners to support sustainability and build resilience. They will be exploring how APA can use the arts to continue to be a more environmentally conscious organisation.

The Stove Network – Alongside their capital work to develop the capabilities and efficiencies of their venue at 100 High Street, Stovies are developing their community-led programming strand Open Hoose, which encourages project development with a strong focus on environmental and de-carbonising activities. These have so far included Climate Kitchen, a monthly space exploring opportunities for individuals to improve their own carbon footprint, Doughlicious, a community bread making club, and Nith Life, a group seeking to influence sustainable management & flood prevention.

Festivals Edinburgh – After identifying that travel has historically been their greatest source of emissions, the six-strong team who support Edinburgh’s international festivals are setting a three-year carbon budget of 30 tonnes (shared across the three years) for their travel carbon footprint for the period 2022/23 through 2024/25 to allow for different activity patterns each year.

Need to do more

Individually, many organisations are making some great steps towards reducing the impact of their operations, with some like those above even looking to use the power they have as arts organisations to influence the wider ecosystem of business, communities, and policymakers. However, if we look at the sector as a whole, examining all 134 organisations and the pledges they have made, it is clear that we still need to do more:

  • 74% of organisations were able to calculate emissions reductions associated with their planned actions.
  • Of those that reported reductions, 23% are on target to be net zero by 2045 and 11% are on target to be net zero by 2030.

We need to work together to increase this ambition and drive for transformational change in the sector. Since the reporting period, Creative Carbon Scotland, in collaboration with many organisations across Scotland, have been working to increase this ambition through our SPRINGBOARD local assemblies, and we will be bringing arts and culture organisations together with policy makers, climate specialists and others in our online assembly at the end of February.

We continue to provide support to organisations hoping to reduce their footprint and guidance on collaborative and transformative approaches to reach net zero whether the organisation currently reports its emissions or not. Check out our tools and resources for the more practical help and get in touch with Matthew – matthew.belsey@creativecarbonscotland.com – if you have any questions or ideas you would like to discuss.

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