Palm House, Bobby Niven, 2017 | Photo: Johnny Barrington

Environmental Policy

Edinburgh Art FestivalClimate Change Response Plan, Carbon Reduction and Beyond

Each year, using a robust methodology developed with our fellow festivals, we measure and report on our direct carbon emissions. This has helped us to understand our footprint and, over the last two years, reduce emissions that we have direct control over such as travel and waste by 5%. 

In order to progress towards net zero by 2030, we will:


  • Reduction of operations carbon emissions from office energy use by 40% by 2030, with annual reduction of around 3.5%.
  • We will work with our building landlords to identify ways to use greener energy providers and invest in smart meters to accurately monitor energy usage by 2022.  
  • Continue to engage with our landlords to identify ways to reduce heating demand, and to actively understand our gas consumption.
  • Continue to offer only meat-free catering from Edinburgh-based companies for festival events, using biodegradable plates and cups.


  • Reduce travel related emissions for staff, volunteers and artists by 40% by 2030, reflecting an annual reduction of 3.5%.
  • Use trains for domestic journeys rather than flights for all staff and participating artists. When flights cannot be avoided, we will aim to book economy class in newer aircraft1 and offset emissions via a Scotland-based reputable source2
  • Avoid any long-haul flights for staff or artists, each alternate festival year from 2021, except in exceptional circumstances.
  • Switch to an electric-only taxi contract as soon as this is available and lobby our current contract taxi provider. 
  • Use shipping rather than air freight.


  • Reduce carbon emissions from printed materials by 69% by 2030, with annual reduction of around 5.4%, we will review this % annually.
  • Reduce the total weight of guides and maps for our festivals by providing more information online, and or redesigning materials in a way to reduce material use.
  • Review our supply chain and procurement of goods and services, to ensure that by 2024 we are only using environmentally responsible suppliers and materials. 
  • Work with technicians to ensure as many end-of-festival materials as possible are re-used or passed on, reducing our waste by 10% each year.
  • Provide guidelines for participating artists on the festival’s environmental policy, encourage use of sustainable materials and practices where possible; and from 2022 include this policy and advice in contracts with artists and freelance technicians.


  • Advocate good environmental practices and policies across all areas of our work3.
  • Progress opportunities for environmental and climate justice related programming.

Carbon Offsetting

  • Our priority will be to avoid and mitigate emissions, but we also accept that we will need to use carbon compensation schemes to reach net zero. We will ensure any sequestration providers we use are ethical and follow best practice. We will contribute to sequestration projects based only in Scotland.


1 Where emissions are lower per flight.

2 Approved by the Festivals Edinburgh Environmental Sustainability Working Group.

3 We will work in collaboration with cultural and environmental partners to find joint approaches and innovative solutions to the challenges of climate change.

Edinburgh Art Festival is part of the Green Arts Initiative.
Image credit: Bobby Niven, Palm House, 2017. Photo: Johnny Barrington.