Sustainability back

Climate protection, first gear

Climate protection, first gear
Photo: © Timo Ohler

London has led the way, and now Berlin is following suit - in 2020, several galleries in London joined forces to form the Gallery Climate Coalition (GCC). The goal is to reduce CO2 emissions in art businesses by 50 percent by 2030, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. We asked the Berlin branch: Is a real change in awareness taking place here? How can galleries reduce their ecological footprint?

INTERVIEW   Boris Messing


CCB Magazine: In London, the art fair Frieze, the blue-chip galleries Thomas Dane, Sadie Coles, Kate MacGarry and Lisson joined forces in October 2020 to form the Gallery Climate Coalition. Now Berlin is following suit. You are committed to reducing CO2 emissions in the art business by 50 percent by 2030 and to avoiding waste production via a "zero waste concept." Who else in Berlin is taking part?

GCC: Quite a lot! We now have around 50 members in Berlin, and a total of over 500. In Berlin, we include ChertLüdde Gallery, E-WERK Luckenwalde, Esther Schipper Gallery, Haverkampf, Neugerriemschneider, Office Impart and Ki Culture - to name just a few.

CCB Magazine:In which area do the biggest problem areas of CO2 reduction lie?

GCC:One of the biggest challenges is to make transportation and travel more CO2 neutral. Unfortunately, it is not possible to transfer all air freight shipments to sea freight. Not only for time reasons, but also from an insurance perspective. The premiums are simply too high for many galleries. However, a change is already taking place there - especially in London - and new insurance guidelines are being formulated. In addition, dates have to be coordinated differently when planning trips. The changeover must be gradual: Switch to train travel instead of flights within Europe, if possible, combine several dates when traveling overseas, where possible. And so forth.

CCB Magazine:What are you specifically doing now to reduce your respective ecological footprints?

GCC:An important start for us is the GCC-Berlin website, where one can actively inform oneself about the topic of CO2 reduction, with concrete implementation suggestions in the areas of transport, packaging or energy consumption offline and online. A CO2 calculator is also integrated there, with the help of which every institution or gallery can document its CO2 footprint and thus one can compare the consumption every year. In addition to the website, we are currently starting to coordinate joint transports for artworks in the context of exhibitions and fairs. For this purpose, there is a forum on the GCC-Berlin website where members can exchange information about transports, packaging or exhibition equipment. We are also planning a "Zero Emission" warehouse, which will combine a sustainable storage option and transport coordination. With this, the Berlin art scene could become an important pioneer. For us it is important that we do not want to work with "offsetting", i.e. an emission compensation in order to supposedly reduce CO2 quickly and easily. The reduction should happen step by step in practice.

An environmentally conscious approach to resources, materials and logistics in the art business is absolutely feasible without turning the world upside down. The art business will have to change just like all other areas of society - and we will succeed in doing so

CCB Magazine:How is the process accompanied? Where does the expertise come from?

GCC:We are in contact with environmental initiatives all over the world. These include organizations such as Client Earth, Julie's Bicycle, Galleries Commit or Ki Culture. The latter also includes Kim Kraczon, who advises our team here in Berlin on packaging and alternative materials. We want to create an active network between galleries, institutions and artists in the city. Our goal is to establish new standards for more sustainable production and logistics in the art industry.

CCB Magazine:But who controls the results at the end? What is made transparent and in what form?

GCC:We encourage all GCC members to use the CO2 calculator on the GCC website to get an overview of their own consumption and to work on measures for their gallery based on this. Everyone has their own challenges and opportunities there. The majority of these reports are published on the website at: However, it is up to everyone to decide whether they want to publish their results or not.

CCB Magazine:How will the ecological transformation change the art business as a whole? The British painter Gary Hume will only send his works by ship, other artists want to travel exclusively to fairs that can be reached by train in the future. Are we witnessing a new ecological control society, or will artists once again have to cut off their ears to ensure that the Paris climate goals are finally implemented?

GCC:An environmentally conscious approach to resources, materials and logistics in the art business is absolutely feasible without turning the world upside down. We can and must start at many points and fundamentally rethink some processes and change. The art business will have to change just like all other areas of society, and we will succeed if all the players go down this path together. We are convinced that we will get this done.


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