As the world’s governments negotiate policy to effectively limit climate change at COP26 in Glasgow, there is a crucial gap: culture policy.
The cultural sector – the arts, creative industries and heritage – can make a crucial contribution to accelerating environmental action. Culture is vital to national economies, contributing creative skills and innovation, and influencing lifestyles, tastes and consumption. The cultural sector contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and must play its part by aligning with carbon-cutting targets. But, most powerfully, culture can change hearts and minds: it is intimately connected to place and to community; artists can move us to reimagine our world and inspire societies to take climate action.
Artists, creative activists, cultural organisations and creative enterprises around the world are championing action on climate and justice and calling for change.
But to have optimal impact national culture policy needs to be linked to environment policy, harnessing the vital energy of the culture sector to mainstream climate action.
Culture policy sets the terms on which governments organise, fund and promote bodies responsible for arts and culture – bodies that represent artists, cultural organisations, and audiences that join together in making and sharing experiences that transform our world.
In its recent international research (see earlier EiD post), Julie’s Bicycle, a leading international NGO that mobilises the arts and culture to act on the climate crisis, finds that in most countries, national culture policy currently lags behind the initiatives within the sector – and the science.
Government culture bodies across the world report that there is currently little or no mandate to ensure that their culture sectors are aligned with national climate commitments. Such a mandate would unlock the resources to enable the sector to align with national climate policies and it would unleash the true potential of the culture sector to inspire climate action.
Based on 15 years’ experience, data, and research enriched by its most recent piece of international work, Julie’s Bicycle now calls on governments to integrate culture into their climate commitments. Arts and culture can then become a key part of the solution: the missing link.
The call to action is available here.