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Youth Music's Organisational Commitment to Climate Action

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children holding up a globe together

The movement that is World Environment Day (5 June) acts as a pertinent reminder to reflect on our own climate responsibility at Youth Music – especially as a youth-focused funder and campaigner.

Founded in 1973, World Environment Day was created by the United Nations to celebrate environmental action and the power of everyone - from governments and businesses to individuals - to create a more sustainable world.

Climate change is an urgent and serious threat, one that impacts marginalised groups the most. Some of the key issues include:

  • Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.
  • We are currently on track for 2-3 degrees of warming, well beyond safe limits (although this doesn’t sound like a lot, think of it like when your body temperature goes up by a few degrees – not good!).
  • Though there was a fall in climate emissions in 2020, underlying global trends are still upwards.

Our Environmental Working Group

As our environmental journey progresses, we thought we’d share some information about our internal staff Environmental Working Group. This bi-monthly group looks at our environmental plan and tracks our progress, as well as coming up with new ideas. Last year we appointed a staff environmental chair, to help lead and support us to meet targets, backed by organisational policy and our action plan. This year, we realised it was important to expand this out further, making sure we have representatives from each of our teams.

The Environmental Working Group has helped us progress our action plan and strategy with ongoing and consistent conversation. We’d recommend other organisations considering this approach. The working group has actioned lots of positive change. We’ve signed the Funder Commitment on Climate Change, a holistic, high-level framework supporting funders to play their part in tackling the causes and impacts of climate change. Those who sign up commit to the following six actions:

  • Educate and Learn
  • Commit Resources
  • Integrate
  • Steward our Investments for a Post-Carbon Future
  • Decarbonise our Operations
  • Report on Progress

We’d recommend the guidance, resources and webinars we’ve received because of signing this commitment.

Our actions

Another action from the Environmental Working Group was providing Carbon Literacy training to our staff and funded partners, led by Nick Perks representing the Carbon Literacy Project. With Educate and Learn being one of the Funder Commitment on Climate Change pillars, this felt like a good place to start. Getting everyone at a same baseline of knowledge is important in moving actions and ideas forward. It was also useful to get some positive visioning about climate change, as it’s easy to feel jaded about the issue and less motivated to create action.

Some positive facts we learnt from the session include:

  • UK climate emissions have already fallen by 40% between 1990 and 2019.
  • Significant reductions were seen in this period in UK emissions from manufacturing, electricity generation and waste.
  • In 2020, over 50% of UK electricity came from low carbon courses (renewables, nuclear, biomass).
  • Over three quarters of UK local authorities have declared a climate emergency.

We’ve had some straightforward actions from our environmental working group, including the decision to now ensure that all our lunches and staff social food is at least 80% vegetarian, 50% vegan. One of the biggest changes you can make to carbon footprints is to consider your diet choices, so doing it as a company made sense.

We’re now regularly recording our energy, waste and travel as an organisation, and as a flexible funder we are open to some environmental spending within core costs. The cycle to work scheme exists as an ongoing staff benefit.

Lastly, we are more regularly communicating our ideas and outcomes with the wider Youth Music team, including stats in our internal quarterly reports.

These steps may feel small, but they are all important and easily actionable organisational changes that can help lead to a wave of change. Together, we can act on climate change.

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