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An industry first: Nomad Exhibitions joins UN climate initiative

Edinburgh-based exhibition producer and designer, Nomad Exhibitions has become one of the first arts organisations of its kind to sign up to the United Nations Climate Neutral Now initiative. This pledge commits to deliver all exhibitions and services “with full carbon neutrality”, effective immediately.

While it is becoming popular for organisations across all industries and sectors to pay lip service to climate change, the relevance of an initiative such as Climate Neutral Now is in the clarity of the objectives – namely to measure, reduce and offset carbon emissions. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sustainable development is no longer a preference but an imperative.

On a practical level, this means that Nomad Exhibitions will commit to a comprehensive life cycle evaluation for each exhibition by measuring emissions, taking steps to reduce these emissions throughout all activities and financially compensating any emissions that cannot be avoided through UN certified emission reduction programmes.

Originally launched back in 2015, the Climate Neutral Now initiative forms part of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, which developed from the Paris Agreement. As an early adopter of the pledge, it is now hoped that the example being set by Nomad Exhibitions will encourage other organisations and institutions in the arts and culture sector to take similar steps towards a more sustainable and carbon neutral future.

As an exhibition producer, Nomad designs and manages large-scale travelling exhibitions, collaborating with institutions on a global basis to deliver high-quality installations with the likes of National Museums Scotland; Ingenium; Canada’s Museums of Sciences and Innovation; Manchester Museum, UK; the Nanjing Museum, China; and La Caixa Foundation, Spain.

Inevitably, these types of partnerships and collaborations across long distances places a significant dependence on air travel, while the wide range of construction materials required for exhibitions represents another challenge. But in the case of Nomad, finding sustainable design and exhibition building practices have long been prioritised. Since their inception in 2012, Nomad have utilised a circular economy model, which includes the creation of modular display systems for energy efficient transportation, as well as an extensive use of recyclable aluminium and fabric (as opposed to hard-to-recycle resin-bonded wood fibre panels and plastics).

As Tim Pethick, CEO of Nomad explains, Climate Neutral Now represents a legitimate initiative that formalises organisations’ commitment to tackling climate change by encouraging accountability:

“As the initiative sprung directly out of the Paris Agreement, it is positioned in the heart of climate action, with very public accountability. For us, such collective responsibility, combined with a clear carbon off-setting process, is essential to delivering our carbon neutral strategy. Being part of such a trusted and global initiative is key to fulfilling this mission in a way that we couldn’t do independently.”

He continues,

“We recognise that the touring exhibitions community has an important responsibility to adapt soon to ensure we protect our planet from the devastating effects of climate change. The 2015 Paris Agreement set out a central goal to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by mid-century. It is clear that this target cannot be achieved by relying solely on governmental action and that we all need to change our behaviour to work towards a climate neutral world.”

Find out more about Climate Neutral Now.

Interested in how museums can respond to the climate crisis? Join us for the Green Museums Summit in March 2022.

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