30 UK organizations aim to reduce their carbon footprint

30 UK organizations aim to reduce their carbon footprint
Courtesy Flickr Commons.
Leading lights

In 2014, then president Barack Obama tweeted out a simple message saying: ‘We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.’ While there is still much debate around climate change, its impact, and cause, by and large it has highlighted the way that we live today and things that might need to change to pave the way for a better future. Now, 30 of the UK’s cultural organizations, including the Serpentine Galleries, the National Theatre, and the Royal Opera House, have joined a new programme led by Spotlight, developed by Arts Council England, to reduce their carbon footprint.

Run by Julie’s Bicycle, a charity focused on renewable energy, Spotlight will work with the 30 organizations that have signed up to be part of its inaugural programme with the hopes of successfully reducing carbon emissions by 10 to 20 percent by 2023. The participating organizations are among the 40 most polluting cultural organizations, which all received a first-come first-served invitation to Spotlight. The Arts Council hopes that in the future they will be able to expand the programme to make room for more of the 828 organizations that would qualify.

These organizations are selected every four years by the Arts Council as part of the National Portfolio Organizations and receive £71.3 million in public funding. Of them, half of all their carbon emissions come from only a few organizations in the portfolio. Spotlight will work with the selected group to set ‘ambitious but achievable’ goals, become ‘resilient and prepared for necessary changes in the energy system’, and to prepare a more sustainable method of operation before 2023. If any of the organizations do not meet their targets, there will be no financial repercussions.

National Portfolio Organizations have been required to keep records of their carbon footprint since 2012 and since then, their collective annual emissions have shrunk by 5 percent which translates to also saving more than £16 million. Some organizations have also set their own goals like the Royal Opera, which plans to be carbon neutral by 2050 and to educate their staff on carbon literacy through a programme. Through Julie’s Bicycle, carbon monitoring will also increase from a yearly total to every 30 minutes. This will allow the Spotlight participants to have a better picture of how their organization operates and how attendance, different exhibitions, and time of day affect their footprint.

Other organizations participating in Spotlight are:

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary
Birmingham Museums Trust
Bristol Museums
Curve Theatre
HOME Manchester
Leeds Museums
National Theatre
Northern Stage
Nottingham Playhouse
Opera North
Royal Exchange Theatre
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
Royal Opera House
Royal Shakespeare Company
Sadler’s Wells
Sage Gateshead
Serpentine Galleries
Sheffield Theatres
Southbank Centre
The Lyric Hammersmith
Theatre Royal Plymouth
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
Unicorn Theatre
University of Oxford Museums
Whitechapel Gallery
Whitworth Art Gallery
Young Vic Company