Climate change and cultural heritage
All over Europe, people working in and around cultural heritage are aching under a new pressure: climate change. Rising temperatures challenge wooden panels as they shrink quicker than paint in drier air. Baroque artworks such as the Altar of Cranach in Weimar, which survived World War II, are now severely cracked. Pollution from traffic and industry causes acid damage to historic sites like the Acropolis, etching into sculptures and pillars which have stood for 2,500 years. Rising sea levels threaten to flood towns like Venice, endangering its artworks and architecture. Increased rainfall and rising ground water threaten Edinburgh Castle. Art managers, staff in museums, libraries and archives, scientists and cultural heritage lovers around Europe cannot but feel called to action against climate change.
How has the Europeana Network Association been addressing this issue?
In response to the threat climate change poses to cultural heritage and following an initial call to action from Europeana Members Councillor Barbara Fischer, a climate call for action, supported by the Europeana Foundation, was realised at the Europeana 2019 Conference. It instigated breakout sessions to consider how best to pursue meaningful action and support a global paradigm shift to avert climate crisis.
At Europeana 2019 we also developed ideas for a social media campaign to reach out to Network members - and beyond - to call for the fulfilment of the Paris Agreement, to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals and demand immediate climate action from our governments, our institutions and of course from ourselves. Look out for this campaign - we hope to start in April but are mindful of the need to plan for changes to our schedule and people's priorities due to the spread of COVID-19.
We have also been working to develop a platform through which members of the Europeana Network Association can share information, agree on coordinated action and empower themselves to address this issue. We have begun a group on the web-based collaboration tool Basecamp which offers a space to chat and debate, share initiatives and collaborate. The first thing we achieved together was a practical guide to arranging events in ways that minimise their carbon footprint, reduce waste and raise awareness of climate change among their attendees. Find our green event tips.
In the coming months we would like to work with you on a Europeana Network Association manifesto for climate action. We want this to be signed and shared by as many individuals and institutions as possible and handed over to the EU presidency of Portugal in January.
Europeana has been supporting discussion and research on climate action, exploring the relationship between people and the natural world. Published contributions include a gallery on pollution, articles on sustainability and heritage at-risk, and research on Europeana’s carbon footprint and event sustainability at the Europeana 2019 conference.