In our sixth COVID-19 Impact and Policy Bulletin we looked at how COVID-19 is affecting climate action plans for culture. We found three main areas of impact.
Positive and negative impacts:
- Lockdowns have reduced industrial activity and travel, reducing greenhouse gases and pollutants. There has been less pressure on ecological systems, as well as increased engagement with nature during the pandemic.
- However, there is increased use of single use plastic and medical waste, and risks of carbon emissions rebound as industries return to ‘business as usual’.
- Longterm behavioural changes are not yet clear – there is an opportunity for governments to shape and support positive behavioural and attitude shifts.
Intensified challenges for cities and culture:
- Competing priorities with limited resources has impacted on environmental action and forward planning
- Missed opportunities to embed green recovery in COVID-19 responses
- Culture is facing a crisis of survival, with severe impacts of lockdowns and loss of work across the sector. With reduced workforce, internal capacity and environmental skills have been lost.
New policy challenges:
- How can policy makers find a common ground between mainstream economic restart objective and climate action?
We identified five priorities for cities in the recovery period:
Limit emissions rebound
- Emissions are set to rebound in 2021 as economies grow
- Act now to maintain positive environmental impacts
- Culture must play its part in the reduction of carbon emissions in-line with the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals
- Recovery provides opportunities for culture to collaborate
- Cultural policy must align with local social and environmental strategies; urban design; education and distance-learning; digital services; tourism; employment and reskilling
- This also presents opportunities to attract different types of funding
- Seize opportunities for growth in the low carbon and circular economy
- Cultural organisations can maximise the opportunities of a ‘green recovery’ with support and capacity building
- Cultural recovery funding must be linked to environmental targets
- Raise awareness of the value of culture among other public and private investors
- Cultural spaces and programmes can influence audiences’ environmental behaviours
- Capture public interest in the transformational climate agenda
- Culture provides many opportunities for targeted engagement and community building
- Many cultural leaders are looking to go beyond ‘recovery’ and contribute to transformation on a more systemic level
Image: Unisphere, commissioned for the New York World’s Fair of 1964–65, courtesy of NYC Department of Cultural Affairs © Julienne Schaer