The report praised Tate Modern's new extension for using a range of low- and zero-carbon energy technologies

Environmental action saved culture sector £5.1m last year

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 06.12.2016
Report shows cultural bodies are increasing their efforts to tackle climate change
Arts and cultural organisations in England saved £5.1m in 2015-16 by taking action to reduce energy use and improve their environmental sustainability.

A report published in November also found that 71% of organisations said that taking action on the environment had improved staff wellbeing.

The Sustaining Great Art 2015-16 report, which was compiled by the green charity Julie’s Bicycle on behalf of Arts Council England, looks at the efforts made by ACE-funded organisations to act on climate change.

The report found that the culture sector’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 17% from 2014-15 and 2015-16, despite a growth in cultural activity.

Meanwhile, efforts to engage audiences and other stakeholders with the environment through cultural activities are growing, with 37% of organisations producing, programming or curating work on environmental themes. A further 28% said they were planning to do so.

The report also found that the sector’s engagement with environmental sustainability is the highest it’s ever been, with 98% of organisations saying they were engaged with the issue.

The findings come after the arts council became the first national council worldwide to introduce environmental reporting for its regularly funded organisations.

ACE has been working in partnership with Julie’s Bicycle since 2012 on a programme supporting arts and cultural organisations to reduce their carbon footprint and embed environmental sustainability.   

The CEO of Julie’s Bicycle, Alison Tickell, said: “The arts council has been a major driver for unlocking the sector’s contribution to environmental responsibility. This report demonstrates the response taking place, and the sector’s potential to engage the public, design solutions and initiate a shift in cultural values to support a more sustainable future.”

In his foreword to the report, arts council chief executive Darren Henley said the findings came at "an important point for the international sustainability agenda".
"Last December, COP21 and the resulting Paris Agreement – a global agreement by 195 countries to maintain global warming below two degrees Celsius – set a precedent for international co-operation," he wrote.

“So it is wonderful to see arts and cultural organisations leading a constructive and progressive conversation about the effects of climate change, raising awareness and showing through their own management how we can find real solutions to the global challenges of sustainability.”