Blog: carbon management update 2019-20

A carbon management reporting and planning update for 2019-20 and how we are mastering the data with the help of PowerBI.

Throughout 2020, I supported Creative Scotland RFOs and organisations receiving cultural funding from City of Edinburgh Council with their emissions reporting and carbon management. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, it’s been a really challenging time for cultural organisations as everyone has had to adapt personally and professionally in a continually changing landscape. Nonetheless, to date 118 organisations have provided a carbon management plan and 111 Creative Scotland RFOs have reported their emissions. Considering the circumstances, this is very impressive and it points to ongoing engagement among the cultural sector in addressing the climate emergency.

Mastering the data

We were very lucky to host Iain Phillips, an MSc Data Analytics student at Glasgow Caledonian University for a work placement in which he introduced Power BI as a platform to work with the data we’ve gathered since organisations first reported their emissions on a voluntary basis in 2014-15. Together, we were able to bring the whole data set together to produce organisation-specific visualisations and observe wider trends.

colourful pie chart showing kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions by type. For example gas, electricity, landfill, water etc.

Thanks to this work we can share data that provides an overview of what proportion of emissions come from which sources for the whole of 2019-20:

chart showing relative difference in carbon emissions reductions since 2016

We can observe a reduction trend over the years as organisations have developed and implemented carbon management plans, although again remember that we received slightly less emissions reports for 2019-20 than the previous year:

Within the emissions reported over the past five years, those from utilities have reduced substantially as venue-based organisations have tackled lightingventilation and heating with infrastructural changes. At the same time, we’ve seen a reduction in the emissions associated with electricity consumption through more renewables feeding into the National Grid. You’ll note that waste remains a small portion of the overall cultural footprint, although it can’t be overstated in terms of its visibility to staff, artists and audiences, and environmental issues relating to waste that go beyond carbon emissions. As a portion of the cultural footprint, travel emissions remain stubborn both quantitatively and qualitatively, and travel is the central challenge for many organisations.

chart showing emissions by categories of travel, utilities and waste by organisation type

The following breakdown, which is based on the data for 2019-20, provides a snapshot of how the different emissions sources play out for each organisation type. On the whole, theatres are likely to see a large proportion of their emissions relating to their utilities consumption, whereas for tenant organisations a larger proportion is likely to relate to their travel.

The word cloud at the top shows the kinds of projects included in carbon management plans. Encouragingly, travel features large!

Carbon management planning in tricky times

As might be expected, many organisations were unable to deliver the activities they had planned in their previous carbon management plans, but the majority considered how changes to their programme would impact their emissions and a good number were able to build capacity for their future action on climate change through the following themes:

  • Using temporary closures of venues to better understand the baseline energy demand of building systems, allowing for a clearer picture of how this could be optimised when reopening
  • Engaging with strategic and policy development in environmental sustainability
  • Working with other organisations with shared concerns and plan to tackle more complex issues together; we particularly saw this in the launch of the Sculpture Placement Group’s Circular Arts Network and the coming together of the Scottish Classical Sustainability Group
  • Learning from the adaptations made in response to pandemic restrictions. In some cases an increase in digital activities and content reached wider audiences in a way that can outlast current restrictions. For others, travel restrictions triggered a sharpened focus on more local engagement and audiences in a way that similarly can outlast current restrictions and reduce the carbon intensity of some travel.

Through the carbon management plans in place since 2018, organisations estimate that they’ve saved a total of 878 tonnes CO2e in 2018 and 2019. That’s a good start. On one hand it’s larger than any individual organisation’s annual footprint but, since the savings took place over two years, it’s less than the 10% annual reduction that we collectively need to move towards Scotland’s emissions reduction target of Net Zero by 2045.

In December 2020, the UK Government published the Sixth Carbon Budget and the Energy White Paper, with the Scottish Government following up with a refreshed Climate Plan and this year, Glasgow looks forward to hosting the COP26 global climate negotiations this autumn. As we all move forward, we need to ensure our carbon reduction ambitions align with national and international targets and work together to think about how this intersects with our wider engagement and influence in artistic programming and environmental advocacy.

Continuing support and updated Tenant Energy Toolbox

2021 is a big year for many reasons, and we at Creative Carbon Scotland are on hand to support cultural organisations that are interested in learning more about their emissions and how to reduce them. In the first instance, please refer to our carbon management web pages, in particular our tools and resources page. This includes a 20-minute video tutorial providing an introduction to carbon management, our newly updated Tenant Energy Toolbox, which now includes advice on how to monitor emissions when working from home, and more.

by Caro Overy, carbon management planning officer

The post Blog: carbon management update 2019-20 appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.


Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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