An Envoy of Eco-Conscious Art Dealers and Insiders Have Created a Simple Tool to Help the Industry Reduce Its Carbon Footprint

The Gallery Climate Coalition has launched a carbon calculator tailored to the needs of the industry.

The founding members of the Gallery Climate Coalition. Courtesy GCC.

A group of art-industry leaders has teamed up with Frieze and other organizations to create a new tool to help galleries and fair organizers reduce their carbon footprints.

The Gallery Climate Coalition, as the group is known, launches its website today with a free-to-use carbon calculator that has been tailored to the needs of the commercial art sector.

The nonprofit organization aims to foster an industry-specific response to the climate crisis, and the group is recruiting other dealers, art workers, and artists to commit to reducing their carbon emissions. The group’s core mission, in line with the Paris Agreement, is to cut the art world’s carbon footprint by more than 50 percent over the next ten years.

The founding members of the coalition are Frieze; the dealers Thomas Dane and Kate MacGarry; Lisson Gallery, Sadie Coles HQ; and organizations including Artlogic, the tech firm that built the website and developed the carbon calculator. Journalists Louisa Buck and Daisy Garnett, the environmental consultant Harris Kuemmerle, and Richard Scott of the arts PR firm Scott & Co., are also involved in the initiative.

“We had been thinking about issues around sustainability and all the travel we do for a number of years,” MacGarry tells Artnet News. “What we didn’t know was what the carbon footprint was. We didn’t really have those numbers.” 

MacGarry and Dane enlisted environmental scientist Danny Chivers to undertake a comprehensive carbon audit for their galleries, from which three key areas of focus emerged: travel, shipping, and the energy used to power buildings.

The carbon calculator was developed on the basis of the findings of these carbon audits, which Dane and MacGarry are also publishing on the website. The tool can estimate emissions for businesses of any size, and is designed to be used on a regular basis to determine and monitor an organization’s carbon footprint. The group will anonymously collect the data to track the art world’s progress towards its goal.

British Airways planes parked at Gatwick Airport. Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images.

British Airways planes parked at Gatwick Airport. Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images.

The project puts a “strong emphasis on international travel and shipping—a major part of emissions from today’s global art world,” Peter Chater, Artlogic’s founder and chief executive, tells Artnet News.

“To make calculating these complex transportation journeys easy, we’ve made an intuitive interface for members to enter their data in a consistent way for accurate results.”

The calculator also offers the ability to compare different transportation options, such as air freight versus sea freight, for shipping artworks, or flying versus taking a train to an art fair.

MacGarry says that the circumstances of the past few months have shown the commercial sector that it can survive without some of those environmentally costly activities.

“Being grounded by Covid has definitely forced a rapid learning curve, and it has given us the space to take stock and to rethink how we travel,” MacGarry says. “If we’ve done it for a pandemic, why can’t we do it for the climate?”

“We want to change the culture,” MacGarry adds. “These changes are easier to make when we make them together.”

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