Tate Directors declare climate emergency

17 July 2019

The Unilever Series 2003. Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project. Photocredit. Marcus Leith and Andrew Dunkley, Tate Photography ©TATE 2019.jpg
The Unilever Series 2003: Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project. Photocredit: Marcus Leith and Andrew Dunkley, Tate Photography ©TATE 2019


We have reached a defining moment in the history of our planet and the cultural sector has a unique part to play in effecting change. This week Tate’s Directors are declaring a climate emergency. Our pledge is to respond with actions across all four Tate galleries, and at our stores, that put this centre stage.

Last week we opened Olafur Eliasson's exhibition at Tate Modern. We took his ethical commitment to addressing environmental issues as a cue to offer a platform for discussion in partnership with artists, campaigners, artistic communities and cultural organisations. Hundreds gathered to debate in the Turbine Hall. Tate is committed to reducing its carbon footprint by at least 10 per cent by 2023 and is switching to a green electricity tariff across all four galleries. We have helped shape international green museum principles for the care of collections and are sustainably sourcing food in our restaurants and bars, offering greater emphasis on vegetarian and vegan choices. We are auditing our travel and are adopting a train-first policy.

There are, nevertheless, some hard truths to face about how we operate; about the sustainability of public institutions, like our museums, and about the future of culture. Large public buildings, attracting millions of visitors from the UK and overseas, require energy. We see caring for and sharing a national art collection as a public good, but it also consumes resource. We are rooted in the UK but international in outlook: making art accessible globally depends on the movement of works of art across the world.

That's why we pledge to make our long-term commitment ambitious in scope. We will interrogate our systems, our values and our programmes, and look for ways to become more adaptive and responsible.

As an organisation that works with living artists, we should respond to and amplify their concerns. And, as our audiences and communities across the world confront climate extinction, so we must shine a spotlight on this critical issue through art.

Our declaration of a climate emergency is just the beginning in our determination to effect and inspire change.

For further information contact Tate’s Press Office on 020 7887 8730/4941 or emailruth.findlay@tate.org.uk.