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Cultural Launch – ‘Zero Carbon Britain: Making it Happen’ – Centre for Alternative Technology

Cultural Launch – ‘Zero Carbon Britain: Making it Happen’
10th April 2017, 10.30am to 1.30pm
The National Theatre, Dorfman Theatre

You are invited to join groups and individuals from the arts and cultural sectors in
this free, participatory event – exploring what a future Zero Carbon Culture might
look like, and how we can get there.

The UN Paris Agreement recognises that humanity must reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. This is an ambitious shift, but we have to succeed if we are to avoid dangerous climate change.

We already have the technologies needed to reach zero, yet changing how millions of people live is a very special kind of problem. Rather than an unresolved technical challenge, it is increasingly accepted that we face a mixture of economic, political and cultural barriers.

Our new report, Zero Carbon Britain: Making it Happen offers a climate tool-kit bringing together insights from psychology, sociology, political science, economics and other social sciences, as well as faith and spiritual practice, arts and culture. Expert views mix with real-life stories of projects that have overcome barriers in innovative ways.

You can download a copy from:

The report highlights the vital role of the arts and cultural bodies to help catalyse this transformation.

The arts can communicate and inspire in ways that science, politics, academia, media and other disciplines cannot.

We hope you can join us in exploring the positive, connected approach needed to bring a zero carbon culture to life. The National Theatre has kindly offered to host the event – which will offer key findings from the report, stories from real life projects plus a participatory conversation around how we make it happen.

We recognise your work in this area has already made a valuable contribution, so I do hope that you, or a representative of your group, can join us on the day.

To register visit –

Where Science Meets Art – A Green Futures Magazine with Julie’s Bicycle

Revisiting piles of paper and books on my desk, I thought that rather than leave the interesting things I’ve found over the past few years of running our arts and energy programme on a shelf, I would share them here.

This neat little publication came out in 2014 and is packed with interesting things to consider for anyone interested in ‘Making the future a masterpiece’.

Gone are the days where it made sense to ask someone if they were more interested in science or the arts. As more of us put our minds to solutions for a sustainable world, the disciplines separated out in classrooms and campuses are merging. Whatever your expertise, we share a calling: create, innovate, experiment, build a vision, tell the story…

It’s an urgent calling. As the planet heads for 3°C, our cities, homes and lifestyles need to be reimagined in truly radical ways. We need perspectives Picasso would baulk at. We need textiles and building blocks that don’t cost the climate. Sculptors have been ‘finding’ form in stone, wood, bronze or ice for millennia. Now, as labs culture new materials, artists are lining up to mould and strain and hammer and stretch their potential.

Art shapes the way we experience our world. It’s not just about the background: the pictures on the wall, the music on the radio. It’s about what we expect and what we accept; how we behave and how we relate to each other; what we value and keep, and what we invest in and create.

This isn’t niche thinking. Big brands are looking to the arts to help them change their culture and operations. Universities are collaborating with artists to take research to a new level. Technologists are finding inspiration in performance arts; audiences are mixing paints and tracks with product designers…

The potential is vast. It’s time to design the future. The Green Futures Special Edition ‘Where Science Meets Art’ talks to the collaborators and creatives who are leading the way, and asks how we can make it a masterpiece.

Where Science Meets Art is a Green Futures Special Edition, produced in association with the Technology Strategy Board, Coca-Cola Enterprises and Julie’s Bicycle.”


Reclaim the future: engaging with arts and creative practice – Extract from CAT’s ‘Zero Carbon Britain’

Centre for Alternative Technology‘s report Zero Carbon Britain has been inspiring people since 2013 and as 2017 arrives, I am reminded again of what a useful document it’s been.

This is an extract on the arts and zero carbon transition:

“Communicating the Zero Carbon Britain scenario means helping people visualise what it could be like to live in the year 2030 if we rose to the challenges of the 21st century. To offer a context to this, we looked at how our society currently portrays the future, and how this has changed over time. We quickly became aware that there are actually very few positive visions of a 21st century future. Dystopia and ecological collapse almost always abound when contemporary culture looks even ten or twenty years ahead. Be it a novel, a film, a TV series or a computer game, the setting is dark. From Children of Men, The Road, and 28 Days Later to The Survivors – the list seems endless. Yet back in the fifties, sixties and seventies, the way we projected the future felt very different. The likes of Dan Dare, Thunderbirds and Star Trek were going to take us away to exciting places with transporters, hover bikes and jet packs.

As the seventies rolled into the eighties and nineties the wonders of science and technology were seen to be smashing into the limits of the planet’s ecosystems. Alarm signals from the Green movement, along with Bhopal, Chernobyl and a wide range of other major catastrophes, led us into a different way of seeing our future. In film, a tipping point was perhaps Blade Runner, where the future became much darker.

Of course, setting any human drama in a tragic famine situation would not make palatable viewing, so a number of clever tricks are deployed. Either 98% of the population dies from ‘the virus’ before the film begins and the story is based around those relearning to plough with oxen in a deserted Somerset mansion – or – 98% of the population are converted to ‘zombies’ so that if you have to shoot a few dozen of them as you escape the city with the medicine for the sick child, no one thinks any the worse of you.

Despite the fact that a great many of us would like to explore the drama of human interaction set against a backdrop in which we are rising to our 21st century challenges – the artists, novelists, filmmakers and playwrights usually choose to paint it black.

But if society is unable to imagine a positive future, then we won’t create it.

There is, therefore, a need to forge direct links between those working in the arts and sustainability to create a community of practice amongst people who understand the need to catalyse big shifts in how we think.

In tackling issues of race, gender and class, arts and creative practice have shown they can reveal our blind spots and help us see our prejudices; they can break through denial and catalyse a transformation of attitudes and behaviours.

The arts offer a much needed mirror that can help individuals and societies reflect on where we really are, and help us to explore the alternatives. Although science based reports such as this can show a way forward, when the arts and science work together we can begin to visualise what it might actually be like to live and love in a world where we are rising to the demands of the 21st century, and so reclaiming the future.”

Sustaining Great Art: Arts Council England Environmental Report 2015/16

Julie’s Bicycle recently released the latest findings from Arts Council England’s environmental reporting programme.

Julie’s Bicycle has been working in partnership with Arts Council England since 2012 to inspire environmental action across the arts and culture, and in 2015/16 engagement was higher than ever.

Sustaining Great Art: Environmental Report 2015/16 demonstrates how the sector continues to reduce environmental impacts despite a growth in cultural activity, while environmental action is driving benefits to financial resilience, business planning and staff well-being.

Read the report