Strategic Climate Funds / Offsetting
The arts sector isn’t going to become zero carbon overnight. It will take time to shift away from polluting ways of working, but in the meantime we have to take responsibility for the greenhouse gases we do emit.
- Compensation schemes should be a last resort after reducing as much of the CO2e emissions that you are responsible for.
- GCC aims to reduce the CO2e emissions of the art sector by 50% by 2030. Any projects you choose to support must be effective at mitigating the impacts of the climate crisis within this timeline.
- Conventional 'offsetting' means paying someone else to reduce or remove emissions elsewhere. GCC does not support this, and instead reccomends Strategic Climate Funds (SCFs).
- As well as funding international projects that tackle environmental issues you could also consider 'insetting' schemes to develop a sustainable infrastructure within your own organisation and supply chain.
Conventional 'offsetting' vs Strategic Climate Funds (SCFs)
The Problems with Conventional Offsetting
Conventional ‘carbon offsetting’ means paying someone to reduce or remove some emissions elsewhere.
It is difficult to verify the effectiveness of any of these schemes, as we rarely know what carbon calculations have been used, or what untested assumptions might lie behind any claims.
Some environmental schemes might not have an impact before 2050; supporting them is not the best use of your money.
If Not Conventional Offsetting, Then What?:
GCC recommends funding projects that will have the most immediate strategic impact.
These projects won’t make emissions disappear. But they’re a way to take responsibility for the greenhouse gases that are difficult to cut, and will help accelerate wider systemic change.
What Is This Called?:
We call this ‘Strategic Climate Funds’ or SCFs.
Based on conversations with environmental advisors and members, GCC believes this terminology is more accurate than ‘offsetting’.
How to Calculate Donations:
There is considerable debate over this and guidelines vary on who you ask. GCC advises: £50-100 / $70-140 / €60-115 per tonne of CO2e.
GCC recommends choosing a figure within this range based on what is affordable, while also being high enough to act as a useful spur to reduce emissions.
- If your emmissions were 80 CO2e tonnes and you chose to pay $75 per tonne, your equation would be: 80 CO2e/t x $75 = $6,000 for SCFs.
- If your emmissions were 24 CO2e tonnes and you chose to pay £50 per tonne, your equation would be: 24 CO2e/t x £50 = £1,200 for SCFs.
- If your emmissions were 120 CO2e tonnes and you chose to pay €100 per tonne, your equation would be: 120 CO2e/t x €100 = €12,000 for SCFs.
Once you have calculated your SCF donation total GCC recommends projects that cover three major areas where urgent climate action is needed:
Keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
Defending and expanding forests and wetlands.
Shifting to climate-friendly agriculture.
GCC is confident that these schemes will have a positive impact within our 2030 timeline.
This is an initial list - and will be reviewed and updated. GCC welcomes any suggestions or feedback.
Cutting Fossil Fuel Use:
ClientEarth is an environmental charity with a unique approach. They use existing environmental laws to challenge polluting projects – and win. In the last two years their actions have helped stop the construction of three huge coal plants in Poland and Germany and a giant gas plant in the UK, amongst a range of other victories. At the time of writing, they are pursuing 169 active legal cases around the world. In 2017, they were named the ‘UK’s most effective environmental organisation’ by the Environmental Funders Network. You can read more about ClientEarth here and donate here.
Solar Aid work to help communities in Africa ‘leapfrog’ over dirty energy and build a clean energy future. Their mission is to provide solar lighting to every home, school and clinic in Africa by 2030, replacing millions of polluting kerosene lamps and preventing the need for new fossil-fuelled power stations. They don't simply hand out solar lights - they work with local partners to build knowledge, capacity and skills in communities with the aim of creating a long-term sustainable solar lighting market that can thrive without outside support. You can read more about SolarAid here and donate here.
Defending and Preserving Forests:
Art to Acres works with local communities on large-scale land conservation projects. It has helped provide legal status and protection to millions of hectares of rainforest land in partnership with Indigenous peoples and other local communities. There are many more large areas of global forest where local people have persuaded their governments to apply these protections in theory, but the resources have not been available for them to make sure they are implemented. Donating to Art to Acres can help make these protections a reality in more places, keeping huge amounts of carbon safely locked up in forests for years to come. Donate to Art to Acres here.
Did you know... nearly all forests across the globe are inhabited? For nearly 30 years the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) have worked alongside Indigenous organisations and forest communities to advocate for their rights.
The FPP believes the smartest way to protect the world's forests is by investing in the people who have managed them for millennia, and have a history of scoring crucial victories in defence of their lands. The majority of global biodiversity is found on Indigenous lands, but despite this only a tiny proportion of climate and conservation funding is channelled to support their vision for their territories. The FPP's Forest Visions Partnership fund provides money directly to Indigenous groups and communities whose lands are under threat— to help secure their rights, protect their cultures, and defend their territories. Support the Forest Visions Partnership fund here. Please note, FPP are only accept donations from foundations or individuals.
Supporting Regenerative Agriculture:
The AgroEcology Fund supports inspiring projects around the world that are changing the way we produce food. Industrial agriculture is a huge source of emissions - not just from fuel use and livestock, but nitrous emissions from fertilisers and massive amounts of carbon due to short-sighted soil management. Agroecology (combining traditional methods of farming with appropriate renewable technology) doesn't just prevent emissions in the short term, it has the potential to pull huge amounts of carbon back into the soil in the longer term, while supporting local livelihoods and sustainably feeding the world. Read more about the Agroecology Fund here and donate here.
Initiatives within the Arts Sector or ‘Insetting’:
For a truly sustainable arts sector, cleaner, affordable alternatives for international shipping, local art transport, low-energy lighting and temperature control, packaging, display materials, printing, and international travel are needed. Some already exist, others need more support.
GCC is planning to build a list of projects and initiatives (e.g. cycle-powered city transport, reusable gallery sets, recycled packaging, travel-free art fairs or zero-carbon shipping). Members can commit to using these services, despite higher-than-average initial costs, in order to help them become standard practice.
Guidelines produced in consultation with Danny Chivers, Environmental advisor, GCC. See full report here.
- Remove as much CO2e emmissions from your operations as possible. This should be your primary focus.
- Use the GCC Carbon Calculator to estimate your carbon footprint. Reports should be completed annually.
- For emissions you are unable to avoid: multiply your CO2e total by the suggested price per tonne to calculate a guideline figure. This should be donated to a Strategic Climate Fund of your choice. GCC reccommends the schemes detailed on this page.
- Continue the annual cycle of reducing behaviours that produce greenhouse gasses; complete annual carbon reports; donate to SCF schemes.