Updates and Reflections: Carbon Recording and Reporting Training Programme

1st May 2015

In December 2014 we launched our Carbon Recording and Reporting workshop and training programme, which delivered guidance to arts organisations across Scotland about recording, understanding and ultimately reducing carbon emissions generated by their activities.

What is the Carbon Recording and Reporting training programme?

The training programme is specifically aimed to support Creative Scotland’s Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) in working towards the mandatory carbon emissions reporting requirement, which will come into effect for the period of April 2015 – March 2016. As part of their annual reporting in 2016, all regularly funded organisations will be required to complete a report on their environmental performance. They will be expected to develop an environmental policy and to calculate their annual carbon footprint for inclusion in the report.

The focus at this stage is very much on helping organisations develop systems for recording their emissions and impact. Experience has shown that reductions tend to emerge from the processes of policy development and efficient recording.

Creative Carbon Scotland’s training activities are designed to support the environmental aims of Creative Scotland, which include:

  • Set annual reporting requirements for organisations
  • Set expectations for sustainable behaviour
  • Produce annual report on sector environmental impact
  • Tell positive stories about sustainable behaviour
  • Share good practice and case studies
  • Help the Arts influence the wider public

What have we learnt from the Carbon Recording and Reporting training programme? 

We have now held 15 workshops throughout Scotland and our carbon reduction advisers have met with around 100 organisations to discuss and develop their individual action plans for recording and reporting emissions. These meetings also helped identify and communicate each organisation’s specific actions towards recording emissions data and included any carbon reduction ambitions. Through this process, we have found that most organisations are making substantial efforts to operate sustainably but this is often informal and at a grass roots level. The introduction of mandatory carbon reporting has encouraged more engagement at a management level.

Many organisations are very small and have very few permanent staff; several training participants who were new to the concept of recording emissions raised concerns about the amount of extra time and effort that would be involved in recording the information needed for reporting. For most, the need to change existing systems would involve additional effort, which they felt might not be available. At the same time, we have come across many examples of good practice and excellent ideas already existing within the cultural sector that we hope to share.

For the organisations that had already developed an environmental policy and an established habit of recording data, all reported having benefited from the improved understanding and control that these standards brought to the operations of their organisation. From discussions held during our training sessions, it was clear that the process of change for organisations was evolutionary and worked best when existing processes were improved. The benefits that came about ranged from discovering malfunctioning heating controls to improved organisation of tours – both of which led to substantial cost reductions for the organisations involved.

What is next for the Carbon Recording and Reporting training programme?

We are in the process of reviewing reports from adviser meetings to identify common themes, difficulties, and good practice. Discussions during workshops and reports resulting from the adviser meetings have already highlighted some areas of uncertainty on how to realistically reflect activities. We hope to develop guidance on how to report on some of the less clear cut impacts such as fuel use by tenants, recording volunteer travel and further apportioning of shared activities.

For the near future, we are hoping to provide an improved reporting form that will incorporate a standard emissions calculation step. This will enable reporting organisations to see the relative carbon impacts of different emissions sources more easily and with more confidence.

We will soon be updating our Training web resources to include further documentation of the ideas discussed during training workshops and adviser meetings. A variety of resources have already been published on our website, including Creating and Developing Your Environmental Policy,  Guide to Tackling Waste, Guide to Measuring Audience Travel and numerous Case Studies of best-practice examples. We have now also published a Frequently Asked Questions blog post following our winter training programme to help address some common questions about this process.

Be sure to check our News section, Twitter and Facebook for future updates on carbon reporting resources, training and workshops, as we will be publishing a series of reflections and updates on this process through the month of May.

Read our next post in this series, Carbon Reporting for Creative Scotland RFOs: Frequently Asked Questions.

Image: Flickr Creative Commons- PhotoHannah

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About Creative Carbon Scotland

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

0131 529 7909

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A project initiated by Edinburgh’s Festivals with key partners the Federation of Scottish Theatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network

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