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Science Museum Group announces Net Zero target and raft of new sustainability initiatives as museums prepare to reopen in May

  • Science Museum Group announces its target to achieve Net Zero by 2033 
  • SMG’s most energy efficient building at the National Collections Centre is now complete, ready to receive its first object 
  • Science and Industry Museum is awarded £4.3m for visionary decarbonisation project 
  • Sustainability will be at the heart of Vision 2025 – a major masterplan project at the National Railway Museum and Locomotion 
  • Science Museum will reopen on 19 May (government guidelines permitting) with Our Future Planet, the UK’s first significant exhibition about carbon capture and storage including objects on display in the UK for the first time 
  • Science Museum Group announces latest events for its popular series Climate Talks in the run up to COP26 
  • Science Museum Group launches ‘Our Environment’ theme for online content inspired by its collection in 2021

Today the Science Museum Group announced an ambitious target for the Group to achieve Net Zero by 2033, reinforcing its commitment to putting sustainability at the heart of its work, alongside engaging its audiences with the science and solutions to the urgent challenges facing our planet. 

Building on the Group’s Sustainability Policy, published a year out from COP26, this rigorous net zero target places environmental sustainability at the heart of the organisation and commits it to going further, faster, to reduce its impact by changing the way it works. As with all its endeavours, SMG is guided by the science and has signed up to the respected Science-based Target Initiative to tackle both its direct emissions and those in its supply chain. Full details of how the Group will achieve this HERE.
Sir Ian Blatchford said: 'As we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity. As well as engaging our audiences with this grave threat, we need to do more to lessen our own environmental impact, which is why we’re today committing to achieving net zero by 2033. This extraordinary year has shown the relevance of science to all our lives so, as we look towards reopening our museums in mid May, we can’t wait to inspire our audiences once again with the ideas and innovations that continue to shape our world, and find solutions for a better future.’


Ten years after 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. 
At the National Collections Centre in Wiltshire, construction is now complete of 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. Nestled within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the National Collections Centre plays a vital role in the Group’s sustainability activities. Ongoing tree-planting will add to the site’s 30 hectares of native woodlands, with hydrogen and electric cars (and bicycles) used by colleagues to navigate the 545-acre site, which also hosts one of the UK’s largest solar farms. Find out more about sustainability at the NCC.
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.  
In York, the new Central Hall – at the heart of the £55m Vision 2025 transformation – will dramatically reduce reliance on concrete and steel by creating a timber frame structure. A combination of passive design principles and active systems, including the use of recycled copper, will reduce the National Railway Museum’s operational carbon footprint by 80 per cent. Find out more HERE.
In Manchester, the Science and Industry Museum has been awarded £4.3m by the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to transform the museum’s environmental sustainability and place zero carbon technology at the heart of the museum’s visitor experience. The funding will enable an annual reduction in CO2 emissions for the museum of 515 tonnes (equivalent to the average C02 emissions of over 30 UK homes per year) on completion of the works, improving every year as the electricity grid decarbonises through increased zero carbon generation. Find out more HERE,


Alongside putting sustainability at the heart of the organisation’s work, the Science Museum Group is focusing on sustainability and climate change in its public programme throughout 2021, to coincide with COP26. 

Available to book from today are the latest talks for the Science Museum Group’s global event series Climate Talks which aim to lead public engagement with climate science in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. Since launching in January, over 20,000 people worldwide have booked a free ticket or watched an event online, with speakers so far ranging from legendary conservationist Dr Jane Goodall and economist Sir Partha Dasgupta to astronauts Tim Peake and Helen Sharman, musician Brian Eno and Bollywood star Dia Mirza. Streamed online to connect with an expanding global audience, the talks bring together a diverse, distinguished line up of international speakers to confront the most pressing issues around climate science and explore which innovations can really make a difference. Topics for the next wave of events range from the clean energy revolution to how our oceans are responding to climate change, with speakers including journalist Anushka Asthana, Malawian inventor and author William Kamkwamba, The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Former President of the Republic of Kiribati Anote Tong, and many more. Full details HERE.

Throughout 2021 new online stories will explore the environment and sustainability through the lens of the incredible Science Museum Group Collection. From space-based climate observation to green transport solutions and the science of our oceans, these richly-illustrated articles will weave together historic objects, transformative events and incredible individuals driving environmental innovation. Through exploring the Group’s online collection, digital visitors can discover thousands of objects, from ground-breaking devices for monitoring the natural world to those which illustrate political, social and personal responses to environmental change.

Building on the popular Science Museum Group Learning resources, a new hub-page for Climate Learning Resources launches today, including videos, hands-on activities and 3D objects, which will be added to throughout the coming year. As museums prepare to reopen their doors to the public, there will be activities, shows and demonstrations to engage all ages with climate science and sustainability.

The Science Museum prepares to reopen its doors to the public on 19 May 2021 (government guidance permitting), with the UK’s first significant exhibition to be presented on the subject of carbon capture and storage: Our Future Planet. The exhibition explores the latest techniques being developed for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – a small but significant part in the fight against 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 such as direct air capture using mechanical trees or bioenergy with carbon capture usage and storage – 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. More information HERE.

More information about the Science Museum Group and sustainability is available here

For more information please contact the Science Museum Press Office on 020 7942 4886 or via



About the Science Museum Group 

The Science Museum Group is the world’s leading group of science museums, welcoming over five million visitors each year to five sites: the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York; the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester; the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford; and Locomotion in Shildon. We share the stories of innovations and people that shaped our world and are transforming the future, constantly reinterpreting our astonishingly diverse collection of 7.3 million items spanning science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. Standout objects include the record-breaking locomotive Flying Scotsman, Richard Arkwright’s textile machinery, Alan Turing’s Pilot ACE computer and the earliest surviving recording of British television. Our mission is to inspire futures - igniting curiosity among people of all ages and backgrounds. Each year, our museums attract more than 600,000 visits by education groups, while our touring exhibition programme brings our creativity and scholarship to audiences across the globe. More information can be found at   

The Science Museum Group and sustainability 

The Science Museum Group (SMG) has been a leader in raising climate awareness through its public programme while the Group’s approach to sustainability has transformed its working practices and collections care. Highlights from the past decade include: 

  • Since 2011/12, SMG has cut direct carbon emissions by 69%, from its operations despite increasing floor area by 24% as a result of mergers and Masterplan developments, and purchases all its electricity from renewable sources (except at the Blythe House object store);
  • In 2005, the Science Museum became the first national museum to install solar panels on its roof; 
  • The National Collections Centre site at Wroughton hosts a solar farm business that generates almost four times the total amount of energy used by the whole of SMG; 
  • We’ve also built a hempcrete storage facility at the National Collections Centre and the site uses two prototype hydrogen fuel cell cars; 
  • The Atmosphere gallery exploring the science of climate change, which opened in 2010, has been seen by more than 5 million people; 
  • In 2019, the Science Museum Group announced fresh commitments to biodiversity including planting at least 1,000 native, locally-sourced trees a year on its estate throughout this decade, joining 43,000 trees already planted at the National Collections Centre; 
  • Biodiversity has also been encouraged by the addition of bee hives at the Science Museum, installing over a hundred bird and bat boxes together with log piles and hibernacula for reptiles and insects at the National Collections Centre, planting wildflowers at Locomotion in County Durham, and extensive new box planting across the Science and Industry Museum’s seven-acre historic city-centre site in Manchester; 
  • Climate change has been a recurrent theme in SMG’s public programme, with exhibitions including: Unlocking Lovelock; The Rubbish Collection, an art installation made of waste; Luke Jerram’s spectacular artwork Gaia, as part of the National Science and Media Museum’s Hello Universe exhibition; and the Lovelock Art Commissons for Manchester Science Festival: The Sounds of Others: A Biophonic Line with artist Marcus Coates and Cape Farewell (2014); Evaporation with artist Tania Kovats and Cape Farewell (2015) and Cloud Crash with Nerc / Cape Farewell and artists HeHe (2016/17).

Find out more about Sustainability and the Science Museum Group.