The coalition’s primary targets are to facilitate a reduction of the visual art sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 50% by 2030 (in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming to below 1.5°C), and promote zero-waste practices.
We believe that by aligning an international network of members with specific targets and focusing on effective action, together we can create a sustainable visual arts sector.
Join our coalition of artists, institutions/non-profits, art sector businesses and galleries all of whom are committed to creating a sustainable sector. Membership is free and open to all.
GCC is a registered charity and does not operate for profit.
1. Providing sector-specific sustainability guidance
GCC’s tools and resources have been developed specifically for visual arts organisations. All content is produced in collaboration with environmental advisors and all of it is available for free. Our guidelines focus on the areas of environmental damage specific to the art sector, including International Freight, Business Travel, Grid Energy Consumption and Packaging.
GCC has built a custom Carbon Calculator tailored specifically for the art world. It provides users with the means to determine and monitor their carbon emissions. It is a unique, fast and easy-to-use tool that provides crucial insights into the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Using the calculator at regular intervals - whilst simultaneously implementing best practice - alllows members to track their CO2e emissions and thus reach their 2030 reduction target. Measuring emissions is crucial to understanding the impacts of which decisions we make.
Knowing the greenhouse gas emissions you are responsible for is an important step in reducing impacts. Our Decarbonisation Action Plan is a comprehensive resource that offers a pathway for the Effective Actions that lead to decarbonisation targets and environmentally responsible operations.
As community building is a crucial part of climate action, we have developed resources to help members implement changes as Green Teams within their organisations, or as International Volunteer Teams working as region specific collectives in order to localise and translate the guidelines to suit their specific territory.
2. Lobbying for systemic change
At an individual level we are able to make impactful changes within our organisations, but there is only so much an individual or organisation can do on a global scale. By coming together with a unified voice we can drive the industry standards needed to create a sustainable visual arts sector. With over 800 members, GCC has significant lobbying potential. This will be used tactically to drive greater change across the industry.
Via our Sustainable Shipping Campaign, we are raising awareness about the environmental impacts of the constant movement of huge volumes of artworks around the world, mostly by aeroplane. As part of the campaign, we successfully lobbied leading fine art insurers to adapt their policies, allowing for greater use of non-air freight shipping options. Building on this, GCC is working to set new standards for shippers and logistics companies, as well as collectively working to overcome any obstacles to the necessary changes. This is a significant step towards reducing the dependence on air freight and the enormous amount of emissions they produce.
The Sustainable Shipping Campaign is the first of what we hope will be many campaigns targeting the key issues relating to art and the environment.
3. Fundraising for frontline climate initiatives
GCC acknowledges that the cultural industries have a relatively low environmental impact on a global scale (particularly when compared to other sectors such as agriculture and construction). Therefore, making progress within our sector alone will not solve the climate crisis.
We aim to use the influence of culture to support the work of effective frontline climate initiatives. GCC works to raise awareness and funds from within the art market to support carefully selected organisations that:
• Keep fossil fuels in the ground and greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.
• Protect natural environments, their biodiversity and their inhabitants.
• Are effective at doing this within our 2030 timeline.
Through an innovative initiative - Strategic Climate Funds (SCFs) - GCC has developed an alternative to conventional “offsetting”, in which we recommend our members donate funds (inline with their annual CO2e emissions) to a shortlist of approved organisations we have established partnerships with, all of whom fulfil the criteria outlined above.
In contrast to conventional offsetting, SCFs primarily incentivise the reduction of emissions, then encourage donations. Our suggested price per tonne of £50-£100 is at a level that will be impactful to mitigating climate impacts. The SCF system does not allow for misleading claims of carbon neutrality. You can read more about SCFs and the organisations we work with here.
Additionally, through a collaboration with Christie's, GCC has raised in excess of $6.6m for one of our SCF partners, ClientEarth, via sales of artworks generously donated by artists Cecily Brown, Rashid Johnson, Xie Nanxing, Anthony Gormely and Beatirz Milliazes. As a result of the ‘Artists for ClientEarth’ auction series, the international law firm and environmental charity has been able to:
Expand their fight against dirty coal throughout Europe and China.
Take the UK government to court and successfully sue it for its inadequate net zero plans.
Challenged the EU's support for investment into biomass fuels and supported an action against the Ghanaian government who plan to allow mining in the Atewa Forest Reserve, one of the world's biodiversity hotspots.
Launch a litigation strategy to protect rainforests, the animals and people who live with them, globally, including the Amazon, West Africa and South East Asia.
Take legal action against EU fisheries ministers for setting limits that encourage overfishing.
Along with other environmental NGOs, going to court in France to hold fossil fuel giant Total accountable over greenwashing, with the ambition to define the meaning of 'net zero' in popular understanding.
Most recently they have also started world-first legal action which will attempt to hold Shell’s Board liable for mismanaging climate risk.
"The auction series, Artists For ClientEarth, has been transformative for ClientEarth. The series has been our biggest single funder in 2021.'' - James Thornton, ClientEarth President and Founder