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Climate Talks

Science Museum Group announces major focus on sustainability for 2021 public programme
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Climate Talks

Main image: Tim Peake at the launch of the Soyuz tour in Bradford © Science Museum Group, Jody Hartley

The Science Museum Group has announced a major focus on sustainability and climate change in its public programme throughout 2021.

From January 2021, a new 11-part event series – Climate Talks – will lead public engagement around climate science within the cultural sector and conclude in the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021.

Innovations in climate science

The event series will be streamed online to connect with an expanding global audience, with broadcasts hosted across the Group’s museums.

It brings together a diverse and distinguished lineup of international speakers including climate scientists, astronauts, engineers, industry leaders, activists, journalists, politicians and high-profile cultural figures.

Climate Talks will confront the most pressing issues around climate science and explore which innovations can really make a difference in tackling the most urgent threat to planet Earth and humanity.

Topics for the first wave of events range from global greenhouse gas removal and the clean energy revolution to how the work of astronauts and space research is helping us track the effects of climate change more accurately than ever before.

‘From space, it is clear to see how human activity is changing the face of our planet and striking to witness the fragility of life on Earth, sustained by such a thin, precious atmosphere. Earth observation satellites are providing vital data to aid our understanding of climate change, but it is only our actions that can make a difference.’


Three of the talks will also form part of this year’s climate-themed Manchester Science Festival in February 2021, hosted by the Science and Industry Museum.

Musician and climate campaigner Brian Eno, journalists Samira Ahmed and Gaia Vince and physicist Dr Helen Czerski will spearhead debates covering pioneering work in using the law to fight climate change, the future of fuel and a look at James Lovelock’s legacy, with an exclusive video appearance from the 101-year-old scientist himself.

Our Future Planet

Also coinciding with COP26, the Science Museum’s exhibition Our Future Planet opens on 01 April 2021.

The first significant UK exhibition to be presented on the subject of carbon capture and storage, it will explore the latest techniques being developed for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to mitigate climate change.

Visitors will be able to explore a range of approaches to removing carbon – from nature-based solutions such as the protection of ancient forests and preserving our peat bogs or planting native trees to chemical and mechanical processes — many of which are not yet proven at scale.

The exhibition will explore how we can use these techniques to reduce atmospheric carbon, and how this carbon can be held in mass storage or used to create everyday products like building materials, toothpaste and even vodka.

Sustainability has been at the core of the development of the exhibition: the majority of objects have been locally sourced and the exhibition reuses setworks, showcases and AV equipment from previous exhibitions at the museum.

‘Climate change takes centre stage in our programme for the year ahead. We’ll be inviting our audiences to challenge themselves and ignite their curiosity as we explore how science can help humanity take on the existential threat of global heating.’

Director of the Science Museum Group

People, objects and stories

Throughout 2021 new online stories will explore the environment and sustainability through the lens of the incredible Science Museum Group Collection.

From weather forecasting to green transport solutions and the science of our oceans, these richly illustrated articles will weave together historic objects, transformative events and powerful people stories.

The Group will also reveal thousands of objects, from ground-breaking devices for monitoring the natural world to those which illustrate political, social and personal responses to environmental change, through its online collection.

Refurbed IMAX

The Science Museum’s IMAX: The Ronson Theatre re-opened on 09 December following a major refurbishment to mark 20 years of the cinema.

The venue now has seats made from post-consumer recycled fibre, carpets from recycled plastic and new LED lighting, while new 3D glassware material will mean glasses last over four times as long as before.

Former cinema seats and digital projector were donated to independent cinemas, and the refreshments bar is stocked with products from local suppliers who share the Science Museum’s passion for working towards a more sustainable future.

The cinema launched with the UK premiere of BBC Earth’s Antarctica 3D shown in new IMAX® with Laser.

A decade of transformation

A decade has passed since the Science Museum opened its climate science gallery Atmosphere – which has now been visited by more than 5 million people.

Exploring solutions to the challenges posed by a warming world will be a central theme in the next decade of transformation of the Group, from decarbonisation to enhanced commitments to biodiversity.

Sustainable practices will inform the design and build of new exhibitions and the Group’s masterplan projects, including bold plans for the National Railway Museum, Locomotion and the Science and Industry Museum.

At the National Collections Centre in Wiltshire, construction is nearing completion for the Group’s most energy-efficient building yet: a publicly accessible collection management facility which will become home to more than 300,000 objects from the Science Museum Group Collection.

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