Taking Action On Climate Change

Ellie Harrison

The Edinburgh Festivals have announced plans for how they will respond to the climate emergency and help Edinburgh achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.

A new publication ‘Taking Action on Climate Change’ outlines how the festivals are accelerating their own response to climate change - in this year when the eyes of the world turn to Scotland’s hosting of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 - playing their part in ensuring a world in which people, nature and culture can flourish sustainably for the benefit of future generations.

‘Taking Action on Climate Change’ notes that if the Festivals are to flourish in a net-zero carbon future, they need to find innovative, sustainable ways of operating and fulfilling the function of festivals: providing time and space for people to exchange ideas and celebrate our common humanity

Planned actions are intended to reduce not only the emissions within their direct control, but also emissions that can only be addressed through partnership working and influencing those who hold the levers of power in each area. Amongst the actions identified are:

  • Switch to fully renewable electricity suppliers, as verified by Energy Savings Trust
  • Shift from paper-based systems towards digital systems
  • Strengthen sustainable procurement policies
  • Build sustainability into production design and reduce emissions from production freight
  • Engage participants for longer periods so they can make fewer journeys
  • Encourage audiences to choose lower impact travel options and expand our digital offers
  • Motivate others to reduce their own carbon footprint through our creatives programmes

Commenting on the publication of ‘Taking Action on Climate Change’, Sorcha Carey [Chair of Festival Edinburgh] said:

The work outlined today builds on the Festivals long term commitment to minimising our environmental impact, as seen through the earlier creation of the Festivals Green Venue Guide and our role in founding Creative Carbon Scotland (CCS), in conjunction with the Federation of Scottish Theatre and the Scottish Contemporary Art Network. Our actions, at both a collective and individual festival level, are aimed at helping Edinburgh achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and thus address one of the most important issues of our time.

In order to ensure the robustness of our plans, we have engaged a local team of independent sustainability consultants Beyond Green. They specialise in resource efficiency and carbon reduction, and have conducted over 800 carbon reduction projects with various organisations, including those in the cultural sector, saving around 32,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to date. We have engaged them to deliver Phase 1, verifying the core emission categories [electricity, gas, fuels, water, travel and freight], and plan to work with them to conduct Phase 2.

Photo Credit: Stuart Armitt [Tonnes of carbon produced by the personal transportation of a ‘professional artist’ by Ellie Harrison installed at Edinburgh Art Festival in 2020]

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