THE CARBON FOOTPRINT OF CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS
At this moment in history the focus on global warming and initiatives that must be taken to contain it is very high and implicates not only governments but organizations and individuals.
Every human action has an impact on the environment and leads to emissions, the annual measurement of which makes it possible to determine the impact on climate change and therefore on global warming.
The framework that best allows you to estimate greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere caused by any product, service, organization, event or individual is the carbon footprint, which expresses total direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions (such as methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride
and perfluorocarbons) in tones of CO2.
The most widely used methodology to perform these calculations is the one put forward by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which was founded in the late 90s out of a partnership between the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in order to develop an international standard for the accounting and reporting of companies’ greenhouse gases. Today this methodology is not only used by the economic community but also by public institutions and organizations wishing to understand their contribution to global warming in order to develop adequate policies and strategies for reducing emissions.
In summary, the GHG Protocol guidelines require that emissions be estimated by distinguishing between direct and indirect emissions and are therefore classified into three categories.
The three different categories are referred to as Scope:
• Scope 1
These are direct emissions from proprietary or controlled sources.
Direct emissions generally derive from the direct combustion of fossil fuels such as gas (natural and LPG) used for heating, fuelling transport vehicles and the direct generation of electricity. These sources can be fixed (e.g. electricity generators, industrial processes) or mobile (e.g. vehicles)
• Scope 2
These are indirect emissions resulting from the supply and combustion of fuels for the production of electricity or heat purchased by an organization.
• Scope 3
Scope 3 emissions are all the indirect emissions (not included in scope 2) that are produced in the generation of the company’s value chain. Although these emissions are beyond the direct control of the organization measuring its carbon footprint, they may represent the largest part of its greenhouse gas emissions inventory. This category includes all modes of transport of people and goods (railway, sea, air and road). However, it should be noted that if the transport
equipment is owned or controlled by the organization, the emissions must be considered part of the Scope 1 category of direct emissions. The GHG Protocol divides Scope 3 emissions into Upstream and Downstream emissions and classi105 fies them into 15 different categories.
• Upstream emissions
Upstream emissions include indirect greenhouse gas emissions within the organization’s value chain and are related to goods and services purchased and generated from the beginning of the production cycle to delivery.
These emissions are classified into eight categories:
o Purchased goods and services
o Capital goods
o Fuel and energy-related activities
o Upstream transportation and distribution
o Waste generated by operations
o Business travel
o Employee commuting
o Assets leased upstream
• Downstream emissions
Downstream emissions include indirect greenhouse gas emissions within the company’s value chain related to goods and services sold and issued after they have left company ownership or control. Downstream emissions fall into seven different categories:
o Downstream transportation and distribution
o Processing of sold products
o Use of sold products
o End-of-life treatment of sold products
o Assets leased downstream
In many non-manufacturing facilities, Scope 3 emissions account for the largest percentage of these facilities’ total emissions.
The cultural world and climate impact Climate impact in the cultural world is still a blind spot yet many cultural stakeholders are starting to become aware of the importance of developing environmental
sustainability practices in the cultural sphere in order to make an
active contribution to overcoming the climate crisis. Culture has the capacity to develop new ideas, new behaviours and to promote and propagate them so it is important that it also play an active role in the fight against climate change.
In addition to artists confronting themselves with the climate crisis itself, cultural institutions, cultural operators and artists are increasingly looking for tools and methods to align their actions with ecological sustainability goals in an understandable and effective way.
But how to begin?
In 2020 the German Federal Cultural Foundation carried out a study with the participation of 19 cultural organizations who tried to calculate their carbon footprint according to GHG methods.
From this research it emerged that if we add up the footprints of all 19 pilot institutions the CO2 total is equivalent to 20,389 tonnes (t).
This total is divided between the three scopes according to the following percentages:
21% Scope 1, 45% Scope 2 and 33% Scope 3.
In Scope 1 the most significant emissions category among the institutions were heating and fossil fuels (89%).
In Scope 2 the most significant emissions categories were externally purchased electricity (64%) and externally supplied heating (36%).
In Scope 3 approximately 87% of all emissions could be attributed to business trips and staff travel and, by extension, the area of mobility.
Only 13% was attributable to water and waste categories.
If we look at Scope 3 in overview we discover that in the optional emission categories visitor travel accounts for 28%, service provider mobility for 6% and transport logistics also for a significant share.
The most important aspect of this research is that the cultural institutions involved became aware of their carbon footprint and developed strategies to reduce their emissions.
The participants established a number of recommendations divided among the 3 areas (or scopes) for the development of future environmental strategies.
These proposals can be easily adapted to all cultural organizations.
By analysing their carbon footprint, cultural organizations can define policies and strategies that lead to economic benefits in the areas of energy savings, use or reuse of resources and logistic planning.
There are many areas in which a cultural organization can take action to reduce its emissions. We offer some ideas below:
• Electricity and heating: examination of installations and their modernization needs. Verification and selection of electricity suppliers and opting for suppliers that use energy produced from renewable sources.
• Car fleet: analysis of car fleet and replacement of higher emission vehicles.
• Travel and business trips: attempt to reduce business trips and opt for online meetings. Choose trains over planes.
• Artists and invited guests: Provide travel guidelines for invited artists and guests. Plan for artists and guests to stay several days in order to “amortize” the trip. Promote collaborations with other geographically close institutions in order to plan events that cover multiple dates/days.
• Public travel: include public transport in the event ticket. Install charging stations for electric cars in car parks. Carry out audience surveys to collect data on which initiatives and improvements are most relevant. These are just a few examples of initiatives that can be undertaken by cultural organizations to reduce the environmental impact of their events. Much can also be done in the areas of water management, waste management and the materials used in performances. By knowing their carbon footprint, cultural institutions can respond to requests for organising sustainable and environmentally-friendly events and improve their credibility by demonstrating the will to change practices. Avoiding or reducing
CO2 emissions is not only a cultural and climate policy, but also an economically beneficial way of operating that helps cultural organizations achieve financial sustainability objectives as well.
Elena Pascolini, chartered Accountant and partner in the Lombard DCA accounting firm and a in the BBS-Lombard
accounting firm. She specialized in statutory auditing, integrated reporting and sustainability consultancy.