News: A Greener Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2019

27th June 2019

Edinburgh International Book Festival, a leading member of the Green Arts Initiative, shows how they're going greener through their new programme and the festival's operations.

At Edinburgh International Book Festival we are working at reducing our environmental impact, increasing our sustainability and creating a forum for discussion to bring environmental concerns and the climate change debate to a wider public. This year’s programme theme is We Need New Stories, and climate change is one of the many pressing issues that have led us to seek new ideas in a world that requires creative solutions with increasing urgency.

The 2019 Programme

The Fragile Planet is a strand running through the 2019 programme bringing together environment specialists, scientists and activists to ask: how can we avert disaster?

Author and journalist Fred Pearce has been exploring science and environmental issues for two decades and comes to Charlotte Square Gardens to discuss his new book When The Rivers Run Dry, which revolves around the Earth’s water resources. UCL emeritus professor Steve Jones joins us to discuss how crucial our nearest star is to life on Earth through Here Comes the Sun. And award-winning Norwegian professor of Life Sciences, Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson investigates our Earth’s astoundingly fragile ecosystem.

Mary Robinson: Our Children's PlanetAuthors finding new ways to talk about climate change in a series of events presented in an exciting new collaboration with WWF include former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, sustainability expert Mike Berners-Lee and Alex Rogers, a pioneer in marine biology and consultant on BBC’s Blue Planet II.

One of the strand’s major highlights is From Carbon’s Casualties to Climate Solutions, part of the New York Time Debate Series in which Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Josh Haner comes together with Australian novelist and campaigner Tim Winton and Laura Watts, whose Energy at the End of World offers a way forward through Orkney’s role as a centre for energy innovation.

We also take time to celebrate the wonders of the natural world with writers, including Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge, Kathleen Jamie who previews her luminous new essay collection Surfacing, master wordsmith Robert Macfarlane takes a lyrical journey into the hidden worlds beneath our feet and artist Amanda Thomson’s first book is a paean to our ways with words about the world.

For younger readers Chris Mould has illustrated a new edition of The Iron Man, Nicola Davies brings her Country Tales series as well as an event for grown-ups that explores how to Inspire a Generation with Science Books to take action for the planet. Jill Calder pairs her award-winning illustrations with stories and facts from the BBC’s Miranda Krestovnikoff about our blue planet and how to protect it and YA writers Marcus Sedgwick & C A Fletcher introduce ideas about civilisation and its impact on the planet.

On site in August

We strive to make our Festival Village in Charlotte Square Gardens and the west end of George Street as sustainable as possible. We have extensive recycling facilities and separate 100% of recyclable waste – we have also specially designed child-friendly recycling bins to encourage sustainability from a young age. Our caterers use compostable packaging, plates, cups, glasses and cutlery in all cafes and bars on site, and we have prominent public drinking-water taps across our Festival site to encourage people to use reusable bottles.

All our public and author toilets on site are connected to mains sewerage, avoiding the use of chemicals and waste collection vehicles. Staff uniforms use fairly-traded and, where available, biodegradable materials. In 2018, we introduced e-tickets, a more sustainable alternative to printed tickets. The Book Festival brochure is printed on 100% recycled paper and we actively encourage audiences to recycle their copies or pass them on to a friend.

In our offices

We have our own Green Team – a cross-departmental team of staff who champion sustainability throughout the year. They ensure that environmental matters are considered at every stage of activity to help identify where changes can be made, however small, to reduce our impact. We separate all our office recyclable waste too, order milk for the kitchens in glass bottles and reduce paper waste by using an online HR portal and avoiding printing wherever possible. Most recently, the team have been working on creating a transport policy with the aim of reducing the number of domestic and short haul flights taken by our staff to reduce our environmental impact further.

Read more about our organisational environmental work at

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Green Arts Initiative

Edinburgh International Book Festival is one of 225+ members of the Green Arts Initiative, an interactive community of Scottish arts organisations working to improve their environmental performance.

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