Culture – Mitigation


In principle, all human operation and thus also emissions are connected to culture. However, if interpreted more narrowly, the climate impacts of culture comprise the emissions related to the construction and maintenance of culture facilities and the travels to cultural events. On the other hand, culture is changing from a meeting culture to a more individual enjoyment culture. In such cases, emissions related to moving are reduced but the life cycle emissions caused by personal equipment – consumption of electricity, in particular – increase.

Culture and mitigation of climate change

If understood broadly, culture refers to the entity of a community's or the entire human kind's mental and material achievements. In this respect, culture has a huge impact on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. This section addresses the direct and indirect emissions related to mental, immaterial enjoyment culture which are markedly smaller than the emissions related to the broad concept of culture.

Emissions of culture are mainly related to buildings and moving

In Finland, greenhouse gas emissions connected to culture are created mainly by the construction and maintenance of facilities for culture and by people travelling to cultural events. Culture and concert houses and theatres are the most notable consumers of energy in cultural facilities. If possible, municipalities in Finland should improve the requirements of public transport, so driving to cultural events with one's own car could be reduced as effectively as possible. Emissions related to trips abroad to enjoy culture are particularly large. Leaving out one culture trip to Italy corresponds to the emissions of nearly 7,000km of driving with a new low emission car.

Depending on the viewpoint, greenhouse gas emissions related to the arrangements of culture can be considered to be a part of culture or some other sector, such as construction and land use or traffic.

Culture is enjoyed in various ways

In part, the traditional culture of large groups of people coming together is being replaced by individual enjoyment culture. In the spirit of the digital age, theatres and concert halls are being replaced by a virtual world inside peoples homes where home theatres, computer and video games and a range of social media, such as Facebook, take over the free time. In such a case, greenhouse gas emissions related to moving may be reduced but the new equipment in the home increase greenhouse gas emissions due to increased consumption of electricity and the manufacture and transport of the new equipment. In particular, use of the Internet markedly increases energy consumption and emissions.

Municipalities can create a new climate culture

Similar to other operations, a municipality should weight the benefits of arranging cultural services: how to arrange various services and products with as little environmental effects as possible, while taking the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions of the service's and product's entire life cycle into consideration?

The starting point should be that a new concept, good climate culture, be created alongside traditional cultural events and the home's enjoyment culture. In other words, the goal is that the municipality, business life and the residents of the municipality would adopt an environmentally friendly life style that is as low emission as possible and would consider it an acquired benefit and right. An innovative municipality can promote the creation of good climate culture and future in a range of ways.

Assessing the carbon footprint of culture presents a challenge

In the current world, the pressures to decrease the carbon footprint of culture are great. However, calculating the carbon footprint of culture and art is extremely complex because no unequivocal decision on the emissions related to culture has been developed. Finns, Europeans and all people on earth should adopt a common climate culture aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions irrespective of the size of the emissions related to culture or any other sector. Juggling emissions between sectors will not solve the climate problem, but a change in the way we think and act will.