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Julie’s Bicycle Releases COP26 Call to Action

Aerial photo of wispy clouds over some snowy mountains

Julie’s Bicycle urges COP26 to address a global policy gap: Arts and culture is missing from environment policy
Artists debate solutions in Glasgow–

Governments negotiating at COP26, should start accounting for the impact that their cultural and artistic communities can contribute to limiting climate change, urges international NGO Julie’s Bicycle.

Governments have missed the opportunity to link culture policy with environmental policy, leaving a huge gap in the potential for the culture sector to reduce its own emissions and inspire action across society to address the climate crisis. Julie’s Bicycle has issued a Call to Action for governments to link national culture policy to environment policy.

Arts and culture organisations around the world are already taking climate action, including reducing carbon emissions. But according to new research by Julie’s Bicycle, what is missing is government policy that takes a consistent, supportive approach to stimulating arts and culture organisations to operate sustainably.

But it doesn’t stop with decarbonising the culture sector. There is also an opportunity for government policy to draw on the culture sector’s creativity and power to motivate. The culture sector needs to be fully represented, alongside other sectors of the economy and society, in designing and implementing effective environment policy.

“Culture policies should much better reflect environment policy, as well as channelling arts and culture perspectives into environment policy,” said Alison Tickell, founder and CEO, Julie’s Bicycle.

“At COP21 in 2015, we joined with global arts leaders and artists to express support and urge ambitious action on climate,” Tickell said. “At COP26 we have a more urgent demand: rethink culture policy to help the culture community to combat climate change – by cutting carbon as well as through its capacity to touch hearts and minds.”

It is a message Julie’s Bicycle is taking into the COP26 Green Zone at a panel event (5 November, 10:00am GMT), which is exploring artistic and cultural responses to the climate crisis. Panellists include: artist and designer, Es Devlin; author, Elif Shafak; Friday’s For Future India co-founder, Disha A. Ravi; polar conservationist, Prem Gill; Nova Ruth, founder of Arka Kinari; and IPCC scientist and climate communicator Ed Hawkins.

The demand for climate action to be built in to culture policies reflects Julie’s Bicycle’s recent international research, on how national culture bodies are responding to the climate crisis. Overwhelmingly arts and culture organisations report that there is currently little or no mandate to ensure that their culture sectors are aligned with national climate commitments. A formal mandate would unlock the resources to enable the sector to decarbonise and unleash its true potential to contribute to environmental priorities.

The research, conducted in partnership with the British Council, is part of Julie’s Bicycle’s on-going work, focused on high-impact programmes and policy change to meet the climate crisis head-on.

“We have seen through 15 years of practical experience and our research that the culture community is anxious to be involved but sporadic initiatives are not enough to make a real difference. We need the underpinning of policy to drive carbon-saving operations and ensure that arts and culture feeds into environment policy,” Tickell said.

Culture should have a fundamental role in planning and promoting environmental transformation. But today, Julie’s Bicycle argues, that is a significant gap in most countries of the world.