Climate justice

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A photo of billowing smoke from burning crops with a small running figure silhouetted against it. Text reads: Climate Justice.

We are working on reframing our work more thoroughly through the lens of climate justice. Climate justice understands climate change not only as a technological issue but an ethical one that stems from and worsens existing inequalities and injustices. We believe this understanding has profound implications for how the arts and culture sector act on climate change, which we are exploring in detail.  

What is climate justice? 

Climate justice takes a people-centred approach to climate change, treating it as a social, political and cultural issue as much as a scientific and technological one. Those who are worst affected by climate change are the poorer and more disadvantaged and are generally those who have contributed least to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause it. Climate justice therefore requires strong climate action. It also helps to shape the nature of the action we should take. Action on climate change needs to be fair and equitable and should counter rather than worsen existing inequalities. Climate justice has long been championed by campaigning organisations and is recognised by the Scottish Government as part of their own climate change policy.   


Why is this relevant to arts and culture?  

We believe that working through the lens of climate justice will help the arts and culture sector to work on climate change as effectively as possible. Our existing work has shown that arts and culture can play key roles in developing action on climate change. Because climate justice frames climate change as a social issue as well as a scientific and technological one, it points to an even stronger role for the arts and culture sector to play.  

Arts and culture can make issues comprehensible and relevant, reach new people in new ways, create spaces for discussion, help imagine alternative futures, platform voices and offer much needed care and wellbeing support. These roles are important for building understanding, ensuring that people can be actively involved in the process of shaping action on climate change, and influencing climate action to be fair and just. We must also ensure that the steps the arts and culture sector takes to address climate change maximise opportunities to improve equalities, diversity and inclusion and avoid discrimination. 

Examples of climate justice work in arts and culture might include: 

  • Working to engage people in climate change who may otherwise be excluded, such as the National Mining Museum’s work with ex-coal-mining communities 
  • Providing avenues for people to have their voices heard and influence policy, such as Làn Thìde’s work on gathering local experiences of climate change to inform the Outer Hebrides’ plan for adapting to climate change.  
  • Build understanding of how climate change interacts with inequality, such as through the People’s Palace of Possibility project
  • Using artistic means to platform underrepresented voices, such as through the Possible Dialogues project 
  • Adopting less carbon-intensive methods that have other benefits, such as replacing a live performance with a digital one to improve access for people living in remote locations or with mobility constraints


What are we doing? 

This project involves carrying out research into climate justice and developing our understanding of how they relate to the arts and culture sector in order to improve our support to the sector. We have already offered some advice on climate justice for arts and cultural venues and are developing this further. We are obtaining advice from expert figures and organisations, running discussions, and surveying existing research. The findings from this work will be shared through new guides, website articles and events. Planned results of this project include: 

  • Changes to Creative Carbon Scotland’s own procedures and practices  
  • New detailed advice for cultural organisations, artists, and those interested in collaborating with the arts and cultural sector 
  • Public events and talks that explore aspects of climate justice in detail 
  • New collaborations with organisations focused on climate justice 


For more information about this project, please contact  


Local Journeys for Change 

This project is part of the IETM Local Journeys for Change activity which is supported by the European Union as part of IETM Network Grant 2022-2024 NIPA: the New International in the Performing Arts. 

Local Journeys for Change (LJC) is the new IETM programme for IETM members; aimed to empower them to bring positive change to their local professional context, local communities or policy-making field.  

For this first edition of the programme, focused on the theme of Inclusivity, Equality and Fairness, the LJC selection committee selected 24 projects led by IETM members from 22 countries worldwide. They will benefit from training, mentorship, peer-review exchange and financial support to implement their projects in their respective local communities. 

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Image source: Climate Visuals, licensed for use under Creative Commons

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We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

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