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by Karen Ridgewell, Climate Emergency & Sustainability Lead at Creative Scotland
14 November 2023
Associate feature: Harnessing the power of culture and  creativity to act on the climate emergency

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Associate feature: Harnessing the power of culture and creativity to act on the climate emergency

As the climate emergency continues to unfold, Scotland finds itself grappling with the profound impacts of this global crisis. From altering seasonal patterns to intensifying weather events, the signs of change are undeniable. In response, Creative Scotland continues to build on its commitment to environmental sustainability.

Creative Scotland’s Climate Emergency and Sustainability Plan was published in 2022 with over 60 actions, each co-designed with our staff, that represent our dedication to lead, partner, and facilitate meaningful change. Since beginning the role of Climate Emergency & Sustainability Lead, we’ve made progress in several key areas.

We’ve made our ambitions for environmental sustainability clear to applicants through specific fund criteria and questions. Environmental Sustainability will be a key criterion for awarding funding through the Multi-Year Funding programme and is already a requirement of our Open Funding and Extended Programme Funding routes. We’ve also integrated the Strategic priority for Environmental Sustainability into our Annual Planning processes, Operational Planning and the staff performance management through individual Performance Development Reviews.

Our work doesn’t exist in isolation, and we recognise that our commitment to addressing the causes and impacts of climate change must extend to how we work with artists, cultural projects and organisations.

Through Regular Funding from Creative Scotland, Creative Carbon Scotland works directly with individuals, organisations and strategic bodies engaged across both cultural and sustainability sectors to harness the role of culture in achieving this change. Working with Creative Carbon Scotland and others, we have supported sustainable practice across the culture and creative sector for many years, not least in terms of carbon reporting and reduction.

We recently commissioned Creative Carbon Scotland to undertake a study exploring the challenges and opportunities for the sector in developing an approach to a net zero future, based on high-level surveys of a small but varied selection of buildings operating in the arts and culture sector.

Creative Carbon Scotland’s Springboard event took place in February and March 2023, bringing 200 individuals from across the culture and creative sector together to discuss and develop commitments to enable transformational change. Cohorts looking at specific challenges will be meeting quarterly throughout 2023/24 to report on progress.

Looking to the screen industry, Screen Scotland, which is part of Creative Scotland, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Glasgow City Council and BECTU, has created a Sustainability Manager role within BECTU VISION. They support the development of tools, skills and resources for embedding sustainability across the Scottish screen sector.

With climate change serving as the defining challenge of our era, Creative Scotland remains determined in its dedication to leveraging culture and creativity as potent instruments of transformation.

We’re currently developing our 2030 pathway to net-zero and work in the year ahead includes the amendment of our greenhouse gas emissions boundary, identification of mechanisms to collect more in-depth data and a focus on our largest organisational emitter of emissions: transport.

We’re also working as part of the Scottish Government’s Climate Policy Engagement Network to champion the role of the culture and creative sector in the development of the Just Transition Plans (Built Environment and Construction, Agriculture and Land Use and Transport), the updated Climate Change Plan and Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme. Through these actions, we envision a Scotland that not only thrives culturally but also stands as a beacon of environmental stewardship.

In this critical moment, where the future of our planet hangs in the balance, culture and creativity emerge as a catalyst for change. Creative thinking and ideas have the power to positively influence and shape public debate and perspective around the causes and effects of climate change and provoke action.

Culture and creativity have a key role to play in helping to address the climate emergency and contributing to a more environmentally sustainable Scotland.

This article is sponsored by Creative Scotland

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