New Hope for UK Theatre as Sustainability Projects Reveal Industry-Wide Changes

By Daniel Connolly

30th March 2022

(Theatre with lone audience member. Photography:

A report from the National Theatre on their Environmental Sustainability details multiple projects that have contributed to the goal of being a carbon-neutral facility by 2050.

The climate emergency has inflicted pressure and difficulty upon many industries throughout the world that use copious amounts of energy in their operations. This pressure has put the theatre industry under a microscope to make severe changes in their practice.

The National Theatre said: “we create work that is inherently temporary; we make use of raw materials; of heat, light and sound; that asks people to travel to a particular location at a particular time.”

By employing a new Environmental Sustainability Policy and pledging to work to the baseline standard of the Theatre Green Book, the National Theatre has devoted itself to be improved in sustainability with respect to the production of their shows, energy consumption along with heating and cooling systems. In addition, they are conscious of water use, waste, biodiversity and food and drink.

The report states that 67% of non-production waste is now recycled, that the energy carbon impact of their buildings has been reduced by 25% and that their building now has a B rated Display Energy Certificate, which is improved from a G a decade ago.

The Green Book is an initiative established by ‘the whole of theatre’, in conjunction with sustainability experts to work more environmentally friendly. The campaign’s ethos said: “if theatre is to be part of the most vital conversation humanity faces, then it has to change its practice. The Theatre Green Book sets out the path to a sustainable future”.

The National Theatre said: “we aren’t experts yet, but we will be. Everything we learn along the way will help us change the way we make theatre for good”. 

A 2008 report on London theatres details that 50,000 tonnes of carbon emissions is generated in a year. This shows immense change has been necessary in the industry for a long time.

Through this pledge to Environmental Sustainability, the National Theatre hopes to: ‘galvanise industry action to combat the climate crisis’, allowing for many other theatre companies to recognise their responsibility to take action.

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