BFI climate emergency declaration

We, the British Film Institute, declare a climate and ecological emergency.

We pledge to work with and support the film industry in tackling this emergency. We’ll collaborate with filmmakers, exhibitors, audience members and our partners across the sector. We will work with government to take action to address the emergency and call on others to do the same.

We are a member of Culture Declares Emergency, and these are our shared intentions:

1. We will tell the truth

As a major cultural organisation, we must tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency. We will support governments, other cultural agencies and our partners to ensure effective policies are created and enacted, and to communicate the urgency for far-reaching systemic change. We will communicate with our audiences and communities and support them to recognise and understand the emergency and the changes that are needed.

2. We will take action

We recognise that legally binding policy measures are needed from Government to reduce emissions to net zero as urgently as possible and to reduce consumption levels. We pledge to reduce our emissions to net zero*. We are exploring feasible targets, including 2025 net zero, in relation to our plant, buildings and archives, and once this process is complete we’ll publish our target and updates on our progress against it.

In our interactions with our partners, and local and national governments, where we find policies or actions that do not help to reduce emissions or consumption levels, we will work as critical friends to question, challenge and bring about change.

We will actively work to imagine and model ways that our organisation can contribute to regenerating the planet’s resources.

*Net zero means that on balance one’s activities are zero emissions, taking into account all possible greenhouse gas emissions and actions taken to mitigate or offset those emissions.

3. We are committed to justice

The emergency has arisen from deeply systemic injustices. Arts and culture can imagine and forge shifts in the ways we relate to one another and the world, in our values and behaviours.

We will act to enable dialogue between the film industry and its audiences about how the emergency will affect them and the changes that are needed. We recognise that the emergency includes rapidly rising inequality within and between nations, and worsens existing global injustices. We will continue to support under-represented voices in film and will seek to amplify those that speak from within the climate crisis, as a natural extension of our work to create an inclusive industry through the BFI Diversity Standards.

We will support demands for more democracy within our civic institutions and government, including through the use of film as a vital discursive space.

We believe that all truth-telling, action and democratic work must be underpinned by a commitment to justice based on intersectional principles. This means acting upon our awareness of how systems of power combine to multiply the impacts on those who are most marginalised in society.

Why have we made the decision to declare?

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced that there are only 12 years to make urgent and unprecedented changes in order to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate breakdown. The warnings of climate and ecological breakdown are all around us, and increasingly present in our film and media culture. It is apparent that all industries need to recognise the scale of the challenge ahead, and act to create positive change.

As the lead body for film in the UK, we embrace best practice and take seriously our responsibility to work in partnership across all parts of the film sector to co-ordinate a UK-wide sustainability strategy.

What can we do?

Film has a major part to play in the movement to recognise the alarming reality of the climate crisis. The power of documentary and other forms of truth-telling through story is immense, including to identify when the reality of the crisis is being downplayed or suppressed.

Equally vital is that solutions are clearly laid out. We recognise that the measures currently being taken are wholly inadequate to meet the level of threat. Yet if speedy and drastic action is taken, and solutions within our reach are applied, governments can meet their climate goals. We will be working within film and the creative industries to foster new ways of working that create a culture of environmental responsibility, commensurate with the challenge we face.

As we build on our existing sustainability policy, we will publish regular updates on our progress. We welcome input and feedback from our partners and our audiences. Please use this contact form if you’d like to get in touch.