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C is for Carbon Footprint
C is for Carbon Footprint

C is for Carbon Footprint

The subject of climate change and carbon footprint is rather overwhelming. This particular part of the blog has taken longer to write simply because the topic feels so huge and I have wondered where even to begin.

The climate action group Julie’s Bicycle estimated in its 2020 report ‘The Art of Zero’ that 50% of the global emissions for greenhouse gases are caused by 1% of the global population with art dealers averaging 12 flights a year, compared to 1 flight a year for the general population – find out more here.

The global art world provides a veritable circus of art fairs, exhibitions and biennales for the collector to attend. The super galleries travel their wares to the international communities of art collectors and this activity is at great cost to the environment. Many galleries are looking at ways to become more sustainable and super gallery Hauser & Wirth are leading the way by having a dedicated global sustainability officer. This kind of leadership is important, as it paves the way for smaller galleries to follow who perhaps cannot afford to pioneer new ways of working.  The Gallery Climate Coalition is an important educational resource for galleries committed to reducing their carbon footprint, and for sharing best practices.

Shipping and Packaging

New shipping practices which put consolidation and coordination at their heart. Simple ideas such as sharing crates between galleries going between international art fairs for example are emerging and using tech to help work this out are being implemented by companies like: Rok Box and Convelio Of course there are knock on insurance and other risks involved, but working collaboratively appears to becoming part of the solution to the issue of reducing our collective carbon footprint. This is the premise  of Barder art that is helping reduce art world waste through a global freecycling network. For crating art companies like DNA Company are helping to revolutionise packaging and storage. Biodegradable bubble blanket is readily available from companies like Zeus Packaging.

Climate Change and Racial Justice

It is now clear that extractivism and colonialism are intertwined and that climate change is clearly linked to racial justice. The 2023 Venice Biennale entitled ‘The Laboratory of the Future’ took Africa and its diaspora as its theme and put the twin goals of decarbonisation and decolonisation as core global priorities. Artists have a clear part to play in helping us address the issue of climate change and there are many practising in this area. The exhibition at Zuleika Gallery in 2022 ‘I Want You To Panic’ took Greta Thunberg’s speech at the European Parliament as its inspiration and spotlighted just a few of the artists working in this area. A great platform dedicated to artists and climate change is, aptly, called Artists and Climate Change

One of the most effective ways to reduce our carbon footprint sure is by going local and supporting artists or galleries from your area.

To quote my favourite thought leader James Clear, “New goals don’t deliver new results. New lifestyles do”.