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Insights Live! resources: Decarbonisation

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Insights Live! Mastering decarbonisation - We The Curious

Mastering Decarbonisation

17 October 2023


  • Donna Speed, CEO of We The Curious
  • Roddy Skinner, Carbon Manager at We The Curious

The Insights Live! event "Mastering decarbonisation" explores the vision, strategy, and practical expertise of We The Curious, the first science centre in the world to declare a climate emergency and publicly pledge in 2019 to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

Donna Speed, CEO of We The Curious, shared insights on their journey to decarbonisation in a talk for Ecsite members. Facing challenges such as financial constraints and a fire in 2022, We The Curious demonstrated resilience. They initiated a 3 by 6 campaign addressing energy, water, procurement, waste, travel, and nature. This approach, divided into three categories, facilitated a systematic and manageable transition. The formation of a Sustainable Futures Team, with representatives from every department, empowered teams to collectively drive sustainability initiatives.

We The Curious transformed its identity and mission based on extensive consultations, becoming more collaborative, taking stances, and rebranding as a hub for everyone. The organisation invested in a full-time Sustainability Director and declared a climate emergency, positioning itself as a leader in environmental advocacy. The fire incident, while unfortunate, allowed them to reinforce sustainability measures, remove gas from the venue, and invest in newer, efficient systems. We The Curious emphasised consistent communication, engagement, and bold decision-making, showcasing how commitment to sustainability can be a transformative journey for science centres.

Roddy Skinner, Carbon Manager at We The Curious in Bristol, talked about We The Curious' operational changes. Roddy highlighted We The Curious' strategy to decarbonising their building, influenced by their city's climate emergency, focusing on operational changes and engaging with staff and partners. Roddy shared practical steps, such as eliminating unnecessary energy use, transitioning to electric equipment, and installing air source heat pumps. They replaced an ice rink with a roller disco, achieving both energy and water savings. LED infrastructure upgrades, staff training on sustainability, and implementing a monitoring system contributed to a 31% reduction in emissions. Scope 3 emissions, especially related to visitor travel, posed challenges. We The Curious banned internal flights, prioritised sustainable behaviours, and developed a visual timeline for their circular economy model. Roddy stressed the importance of wide consultation and collaboration in developing their Plan 2030, allowing staff and visitors to contribute, making the plan more inclusive and effective.


  • Prioritise Energy Efficiency: Implement operational changes such as electric equipment, air source heat pumps, and LED upgrades for enhanced energy efficiency. Explore renewable energy sources to power facilities and minimise the carbon footprint.
  • Establish a Mandated Team: Form a dedicated Sustainable Futures Team with clear mandates, goals, and robust communication strategies. Empower this team to drive organisational sustainability, engaging staff, partners, and visitors. Foster a culture of open communication and collaboration to ensure the effective implementation of sustainable practices throughout the organisation.
  • Eliminate Unnecessary Energy Use: Conduct a comprehensive assessment of your carbon footprint. Identify and eliminate unnecessary energy consumption, emphasising accurate emissions measurement.
  • Promote Sustainable Behaviours: Implement a sustainable behaviour programme addressing visitor, business, and employee travel. Ban internal flights, prioritise sustainable transportation, and encourage eco-friendly practices.
  • Circular Economy Model: Create a visual timeline for a circular economy, setting milestones for baseline establishment, net-zero pathway development, and circular initiatives.
  • Share Best Practices: Openly share sustainable strategies and lessons learned. Encourage collaboration to accelerate the adoption of environmentally responsible practices in the science centre and museum sector.
  • Offset Emissions Responsibly: Offset remaining emissions through reputable initiatives aligned with recognised standards, ensuring transparency and measurable environmental benefits.

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Contact details:


Carbon Literacy for Museums Toolkit:

Carbon Literacy training is a tried and tested model of delivery that gives delegates a deeper understanding of the climate crisis and how they, as individuals and workers, can accelerate their action to respond to the climate crisis. The Carbon Literacy for Museums Toolkit has been designed with museum staff and volunteers in mind, and will empower all museum workers to enact significant, achievable change within their workplace to reduce carbon emissions, and to use their platforms to positively influence their audiences and communities.

For visitor attractions:

For exhibition design & carbon footprinting an exhibition:

University of the West of England's strategy documents that may help provide frameworks for working: Sustainability at UWE Bristol - Our values, vision and strategy

Public resource


  • EEEA
  • environment
  • climate emergency
  • biodiversity
  • environment emergency action
  • ecsite members
  • insights live!
  • decarbonisation
  • we the curious