Becoming a greener Museum; our plans to be net zero by 2035

Announcing a planetary emergency in January this year, little did we realise that the tragedy of Covid-19 would provide such a chilling warning that we ignore the degradation of the natural world at our peril.   

There is much to do.  A landmark study in May with contributions from our scientists reported that the impact on communities around the world will be dire if ecosystems decline further, with one million animals and plants facing extinction.  It is clear, recovery for health and the economy depend on the repair and recovery of the environment.  We all need to work towards a greener future in everything we do.  The Natural History Museum is no exception.   

Today, in an ambitious new plan, Sustainable by Nature, we are setting out our actions and commitments on how we will become even greener in the coming years. We developed the plan by challenging ourselves on how to reduce our impact on natural resources in our day-to-day business, and on how we will build-in sustainability for all new developments and initiatives. 

By far the biggest challenge we face is to reduce our carbon emissions, and doing so will be the biggest impact we can make across all our activities.  Crucially, we have committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2035.  

Charting this path, we will set science-based targets in line with the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce our emissions, becoming the first Museum to take this approach.  These targets will be vital to help us reach our carbon reduction goals, driving down our emissions as far as possible. Once we know we’ve done everything we possibly can, we will make decisions on how to remove the remaining emissions.   

Carbon isn’t the only area we’ll be addressing. We’ll be working to reduce water consumption, increasing our recycling rate and developing a new sustainable travel policy. Plus, we will work with our suppliers to support the transition to a low carbon circular economy and ensure the food and drink we sell is sustainably sourced.  

For every new project, we will build sustainability in from the start.  We have already started on this with the Urban Nature Project, where our ambitious plans see us strive to go beyond net zero.  And, we are proud by installing solar panels at the Natural History Museum at Tring this year, we are supplying enough energy to power the ornithology building. 

We’re under no illusion: the road to net zero will be hard, but we are committed to playing our part in making the world a greener place to live and work.  

Clare Matterson, Executive Board Champion for Sustainability 

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