skip to main content

National Theatre Blog

The National Theatre declares climate emergency

The Bank of America Merrill Lynch Terrace at the National Theatre, with the terrace garden in full bloom

The planet is on track to reach a global temperature rise of 3˚C before the end of the century. The evidence of catastrophic environmental collapse is growing ever clearer, from extreme weather events to widespread extinction of species.  

Theatre, like all industries, has an impact: we create work that is inherently temporary; that makes use of raw materials, of heat, light and sound; that asks people to travel to a particular location at a particular time.  

However, we believe theatre can be part of the solution – we tell stories, shape culture and encourage empathy and understanding. Our industry is made up of creative and inspiring people who are motivated to make change. 

We have already made significant progress towards reducing the carbon impact of the National Theatre; you can read more about that work here. The scale of the change required means we are already scrutinizing every part of the way we operate. We are on track to achieve our goals set in alignment with the Paris Agreement, taking us to carbon neutrality by 2050. But we believe this is a climate emergency - and it is our responsibility to aim for a carbon neutral National Theatre faster.  

 

To achieve this, key areas of focus are: 

 

  • Our building – we have made significant improvements to the efficiency of our 1970s building, reducing energy, waste and water carbon impact by 25% since 2016. We will continue to set ambitious targets to move towards net carbon zero on site. 

 

  • Our programme – as part of our mission to tell resonant stories and to galvanise positive change, climate and ecological concerns will be reflected prominently in our programme.   
     
  • Making theatre – we are working with production teams to examine every step of the process of bringing shows to the stage and understand how to reduce their environmental impact. We will share what we learn with the theatre sector and encourage the exchange of ideas. 
     
  • Transport – as the National Theatre we believe it is very important to tour across the UK and around the world. We’re actively assessing the impact of our touring and will work to minimise carbon impact; however, the truth is that radical changes to national and international transport infrastructure are needed to reach carbon neutrality.  

 

  • Audiences and staff – we want staff to feel empowered to examine their own practice and decision making, with ideas for change filtering throughout the National Theatre. We must enable audiences and visitors to understand and minimize their pollution and carbon footprint when visiting us.  

 

Read our environmental policy here.