Ahead of COP 27 in November, a landmark report calls for the government to provide infrastructure and crucially, to give tax relief on R&D, backing creative industries to come up with new ways of tackling climate change and making the next steps towards net zero.

The report, launched by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) together with Julie’s Bicycle, looks at where we are now for the arts and climate change.

In its next steps for film and TV, it also calls for greater training of producers so that they are better able to make informed decisions and to develop leadership on sustainable practices within the industry.

The report concludes that “for industry energy and activity to be as impactful as possible, new ways of working need to be established which account for mitigation and adaptation, with the Government helping to develop standards and targets to encourage industry activity and guide investment decisions.”

“At Creative PEC we are calling for a change to the definitions of Research and Development (R&D) used by the HMRC for tax relief, which currently excludes arts, humanities and social sciences,” says Hasan Bakhshi, director of the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre. “Without this we risk under-incentivising Creative Industries companies who want to experiment with new production and supply methods to reduce carbon emissions.

“The Creative Industries are an economic powerhouse, delivering £115.9bn GVA to the UK economy, accounting for 2.2 million jobs, and exporting more than £50bn per year at the last count. As a sector so embedded in the supply chains of others, it’s clear the government needs to work with the Creative Industries to achieve net zero goals. Key to this is incentivising more investment in innovation.”

The report breaks down the different sectors of the creative industries. For film and TV it praises the work of BAFTA and its Albert initiative, which offers solutions for productions towards sustainable working practices.

But it also suggests what is needed for further progress, including specific training of producers.

“To enable greater reuse of production materials, regulatory incentives and financial and legal support are required for studios and productions to overcome some of the existing barriers and liabilities involved with transfer of materials.

“Some work has begun with sustainability consultants and screen agencies to formalise roles that work on sustainability within the industry.

“The industry would greatly benefit from wider access to renewable energy, and ability to tap into the grid across the UK for on-location filming, and investment should prioritise grid infrastructure or decentralised energy solutions for clusters of studios. Better coordinated funding would also support such initiatives.

“an electrical cabinet was built in Victoria Park by Film London, and while it faced challenges the cabinet was successfully installed and will go live in late 2022. The project received collaborative funding from the Greater London Authority, and some smaller contributions from different organisations and the project is now looking at expansion across additional sites.

“Greater coordination between industries such as film and festivals and available budgets could support not only the cross-fertilisation of ideas, but more ambitious projects and initiatives which benefit multiple sectors.

“Having identified that smaller productions and studios often struggle more than larger companies to introduce change, grants or tax credit relief would be welcomed to support them to take action. This would enable the whole supply chain to have impact rather than just big business.

“In terms of training, greater investment in higher-level training for producers would help to embed action on a senior level, and build leadership within the industry. Support with signposting tools and resources would also better enable productions to close the gap between knowledge and action, and navigate the range of resources in circulation. And by implementing training across the whole supply chain, a more holistic approach to sustainable action could be supported.”

The research was commissioned by the AHRC-funded Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) and produced by Julie’s Bicycle with BOP Consulting.

Pippa Considine

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