The time to act is now – We The Curious declares climate emergency

Wednesday 5 June | Jen Forster

6 June 2019

We The Curious is the first science centre in the world to declare a climate emergency; with the pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030. Along with Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol, We The Curious is one of the first organisations in the city to make this public declaration, which aligns with Bristol’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030. The aim of the declaration is to inspire both organisations and individuals to take action.

Climate disruption is hitting the headlines like never before, with the 2018 IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report providing the most extensive warning yet on the risks of rising global temperatures, and young people across the world going on strike in a bid to force politicians to act.  

There is no single definition of what declaring a climate emergency is, but the uniting factor is that it’s a call to action, and a declaration of intent to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. The UK Parliament is the first in the world to declare a climate emergency motion, and Bristol is the first city to declare one.

We The Curious also recognises that our planet is in grip of twin emergencies, the climate emergency and the related ecological emergency. Loss of biodiversity and habitat around the world is threatening mass extinction of species and degradation of a natural world upon which we depend.

We The Curious already uses electricity from renewable sources (including generating energy from the rooftop photovoltaic array), but as part of the declaration, it will continue to reduce energy use across the site, and will remove all gas supplies by 2030. Through a combination of technological and behavioural measures energy consumption across site has been reduced by 28% in the last 9 years.

As part of this commitment, We The Curious will not be running the Millennium Square outdoor ice rink this winter, and is instead looking at new, more energy-efficient offers and activities.

The decision to declare a climate emergency represents the next step in a sustainability journey that the centre has been on since 2010. With beehives and Bristol’s largest photovoltaic array on the roof, a phase change tank that ‘recycles’ and redistributes heating and cooling in the building, pollinator hotels on the city centre site and public art installations that highlight climate disruption, embedding sustainable practices is a commitment the charity takes seriously.

We The Curious is committed to becoming one of the most sustainable science centres in the world, something they published in their Manifesto for change which launched in 2017. They focus their work on three main areas of activity - sustainable practice, sustainability engagement and sustainability partnerships, or ‘Do, Talk, Share’.

As an educational charity and venue, We The Curious has a vital part to play in engaging the public in the importance of sustainable futures and the need for urgent action. As part of this, the current wave of programming throughout the venue for the year is themed around ‘climate action’, with hands-on activities, workshops and events, exploring the positive changes people can make together. So far over 700 visitors have pledged their own ‘promise to the planet’ as part of the Change Makers activity.

Chris Dunford, Head of Sustainable Futures for We The Curious said:

“Climate change is a serious threat to our society and so we need to take positive action now. As an educational charity, we recognise that we have a responsibility to operate as sustainably as we can, and we have an important role in empowering and supporting our visitors to explore how they can make a difference themselves – providing a bridge between the science and the public. Working in collaboration with other organisations through the Bristol Green Capital Partnership we can hopefully engage and inspire people to take action and make a difference.”

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said:

“It’s inspiring to see We The Curious join the growing climate emergency movement in Bristol and to be the first science centre in the world to make this declaration.

“As individuals and institutions we are interdependent and utilising the potential of our collective power, outlined in the One City Plan, is crucial to address global challenges. Quite simply, a carbon neutral city requires every organisation to become carbon neutral.

“I’d like to invite all organisations across Bristol to join us in a city-wide declaration - demonstrating our collective commitment not only to the communities we represent but also to government, calling on ministers to do their part nationally.”

Dr Jo House, Cabot Institute for the Environment, University of Bristol and IPCC lead author explained:

“Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are higher than they have been for 3 million years. In Bristol, the UK and globally we are already feeling the impacts of the 1 degree rise in temperature. The recent floods and heat waves will become more frequent and more intense unless we take action now.

“There are already many ways to reduce emissions that we can implement now; some are easy, some are more challenging but all are achievable. It is fantastic to see organisations like We The Curious responding, and committing to real action.”

James Longhurst, Assistant Vice Chancellor UWE Bristol and Professor of Environmental Science added:

“Many congratulations to We the Curious for recognising the state of the climate emergency and for taking action to address their own contribution to carbon emissions. Equally important is the hugely valuable science communication role that they play. Through their programming on climate change tens of thousands of visitors will hear the call for urgent action and be encouraged to act. I look forward to the rest of the science centre community following the impressive lead of We the Curious.”


For further information, images, or to arrange a press trip to We The Curious, please contact Jen Forster – PR Manager, on 0117 9157 152/07967 334 152 or You can also follow We The Curious on Twitter (@wethecurious_) Facebook (wethecurious) or Instagram (@wethecurious_). For more information, please visit


Editor’s Notes :

About We The Curious:

We The Curious was previously known as At-Bristol Science Centre; an educational charity with an aim to “make science accessible to all”, it opened in 2000, and welcomed over 5 million visitors in the past 17 years. At-Bristol relaunched as We The Curious in September 2017, with a new vision that is committed to creating a culture of curiosity.

We The Curious is an idea and a place for everyone. Our venue on Bristol’s harbourside is a bit like an indoor festival, with all sorts of different experiences, where you can interact with exhibits, test stuff out and participate rather than just visit.  We’re all about empowering everyone to ask questions and get creative - with boundaries removed between science, art, people and ideas - a culture of curiosity.


We The Curious – sustainable futures:

  • Since 2010 We The Curious has reduced energy consumption by 28%

  • We The Curious is home to Bristol’s largest photovoltaic solar panel array - big enough to power 13 UK households

  • The rooftop of We The Curious is also home to a colony of honeybees

  • Millennium Square car park is Bristol’s first LED lit car park, it also has electric-car charging points

  • We The Curious has played host to interactive art installations including the Bristol Whales, Tap into Bristol and the Energy Tree on Millennium Square. In 2018 Luke Jerram’s Inhale sculpture was installed in the building, and artist Anna Higgie worked with University of Bristol’s Cabot Institute to create a climate change mural for the exterior of the building.

Read more about our sustainability mission here.


About UWE: 
UWE Bristol’s core purpose is to advance knowledge, inspire people and to transform futures. UWE aims to lead, innovate and create the powerful partnerships needed to address the complex sustainability issues we face in the world.  Read about UWE’s award winning approach to sustainability at

About Cabot Institute for the Environment:
The Cabot Institute for the Environment is a diverse community of 600 experts at University of Bristol, united by a common cause: protecting our environment and identifying ways of living better with our changing planet.  It delivers the evidence base and solutions to tackle the challenges of food security, water, low carbon energy, city futures, environmental change, and natural hazards and disaster risk.


Supplementary links:
08/10/18 – IPCC report -

08/10/18 - Final call to save the world from 'climate catastrophe'-

14/11/18 - Bristol plans to become carbon neutral by 2030 -


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