Addressing the Climate Emergency: Engaging Young People

In September 2021, Creative Carbon Scotland ran a series of workshops for Engage Scotland, exploring the visual arts/gallery sector’s response to concerns around environmental sustainability, and opportunities to engage young people in climate action. These resources will help to continue the learning of those who attended the sessions and help organisations and practitioners to address the climate emergency through their work.

Resources to help you understand your carbon footprint

Understanding the environmental impact of your work – the carbon emissions it creates and the opportunities to reduce these – are one way to take climate action.

  • Creative Carbon Scotland’s Guide to Environmental Policies. Creating an organisational (or individual) environmental policy can help you to define what you are seeking to achieve, why it is important to you, and how you can best have a positive impact. This guide helps you to create your own policy as well as sharing examples from around the cultural sector.
  • Understanding Your Carbon Emissions. Understanding the sources of climate-change-causing carbon emissions in your work is a good first step in taking climate action. Creative Carbon Scotland has helped many cultural organisations to measure, monitor and understand their emissions, and identify ways to manage this. This webpage gives an overview of the process.  
  • Creative Carbon Scotland’s Guide to Preventing, Reducing and Recycling Waste. Waste is often the most physically visible environmental impact of our work. Often there are ways to reduce waste, change materials to avoid waste or even design differently to give new life to old materials. This guide explores the waste hierarchy and opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle in Scotland.
  • Creative Carbon Scotland’s Guide to your Digital Carbon Footprint. Increasingly cultural work is taking place online or being delivered through digital means, and this raises questions about the environmental impact of digital production. This guide explains the questions organisations and individuals should consider, and what you can do to reduce your digital carbon footprint.
  • From our work with the wider cultural sector, Creative Carbon Scotland knows that for many individuals and organisations (particularly those who do not own or manage a building), their biggest source of carbon emissions will be from staff and artist travel. The ClaimExpenses tool enable cultural organisations to seamlessly account for travel emissions as part of an expenses claim system.

Resources contextualising climate justice

The concept of climate justice recognises that the poorest and most vulnerable in society have often contributed the least to causing climate change, but will be the people who will suffer the most severe impacts. Therefore, we must address the root causes of climate change and inequality for truly transformative change.

  • Creative Carbon Scotland’s Guide to Climate Justice. This guide gives an overview of climate justice, and examples of what it means in practice. It outlines the ways climate justice is relevant to those in the arts and cultural sector, how to run your work in a climate just way, and how to promote and develop your understanding of climate justice further.
  • 10 steps towards a just and green recovery in the cultural sector . Culture for Climate Scotland is an independent working group that was initiated by Creative Carbon Scotland in 2021. Its intention is to increase engagement with carbon reduction and climate justice by empowering a group of representatives from the sector to explore these issues, generate ideas and encourage their peers to join the discussion and take action as well. As part of this project, the group developed 10 steps toward a just and green recovery: suggestions of how to reach the Scottish Government’s ‘net zero’ emissions target in a collaborative and inclusive way.
  • Green Tease Reflections: Climate Justice in Arts and Culture. This blog summarises discussions hosted in 2020 on the topic on climate justice in culture: what it is, why is matters, and what the cultural sector can do to embody and promote it. 
  • Glasgow Caledonian University Centre for Climate Justice. This is the primary hub in Scotland for climate justice research. Their blog, Twitter feed, regular webinars and research archive is a good resource for more in-depth information on the topic.
  • CULTIVATE (led by Creative Dundee). CULTIVATE is part of the Culture Collective network, and seeks to bring together creative practitioners, community groups and a community steering group to explore climate justice in a practical and meaningful way. 12 commissions are taking place over 18 months, with half of these commissions being exclusive to young people between 16-24 years old.

Inspirational examples and support in the cultural sector

There are lots of cultural organisations, projects and people who are leading on climate action in Scotland. Learning from others, collaborating on projects and sharing ideas and resources can help us address our climate emergency in a more impactful way.

  • The Green Arts Initiative. Over 330 cultural organisations in Scotland are members of the Green Arts community: a network of people and projects committed to reducing their environmental impact. It is free to join the initiative, and members receive regular communications to support their green activities, as well as being connected to others who share their goals.         
  • Green Arts Case Studies. Members of the Green Arts Initiative also share their experience and learning in addressing our climate emergency. These are published as case studies on the Creative Carbon Scotland website to help inspire and support others.
  • Further projects, blogs, networks and resources on arts and sustainability. This is an ongoing list of useful organisations, websites, networks and information sources that can be helpful for anyone working in the arts, environmental sustainability, and their intersections. 
  • CAN – Circular Arts Network. Initiated by the Sculpture Placement Group, the Circular Arts Network is a circular economy tool for the arts. Users can redistribute spare or unneeded resources to help save waste, or find useful things affordably or for free for their own projects (rather than buying new!).        
  • #ArtUnlocks Climate Action – Scottish Contemporary Art Network. Part of SCAN’s #ArtUnlocks series, this blog from Chris Sharratt explores contemporary art projects that focus on climate action, and how artists and arts organisations are taking imaginative and creative action around climate change.

Sources of knowledge, support and funding

There are several organisations in Scotland that exist to support charities and SMEs to address the climate emergency. Although not specific to the cultural sector, many of their programmes are relevant for this work.

  • Zero Waste Scotland. ZWS works in resource efficiency and the circular economy to create a society where resources are valued and nothing is wasted. They have lots of tips and offer free advice and online training to Green Champions.
  • Keep Scotland Beautiful. KSB is a charity working to support a sustainable environment in Scotland. They have a wide range of projects, including working with the Eco-Schools programme, providing training on the climate emergency and supporting sustainable tourism.
  • Energy Saving Trust. EST, and its sister organisation Home Energy Scotland, focus on energy efficiency, energy conservation and sustainable energy generation. They have particular expertise on grants and loans for energy efficiency improvements (domestic and workplace) and information on electric bikes and vehicles.
  • Learning for Sustainability Scotland. LfSS helps to connect education, learning and the Sustainable Development Goals. It offers CPD opportunities for teachers and practitioners, and its policy advice, workshops and resources could be useful for creative practitioners working in schools or other educational institutions.

Creative Carbon Scotland regularly shares emerging knowledge, projects and events on our social media channels. Take a look at Twitter for the latest updates.