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Surge Climate Adaptation Plan

Surge acknowledges that the climate is already changing and while we are committed to climate mitigation action, we also need to adapt and prepare our organisation in order to be ready for the challenges this will bring. 


Climate Adaptation is defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as: “Adjustments in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities”. 


Section 1 - Identifying the weather patterns and changes that are affecting our organisation:  


The Met Office UK produces an annual State of the UK Climate report, which provides an up-to-date assessment of the UK climate.  According to the Met Office, the last century has been a period of rapid climate change across Scotland, including Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

Highlights of the 2022 State of the UK Climate Report:

The report reviews the climate and significant meteorological events of the year.  2022 was a year of extremes and the report shows how in 2022, the UK experienced the knock-on effect of increasing global temperatures.


  • The UK climate continues to change, but UK temperature extremes are changing much faster than average;

  • 2022 was a record warm year for the UK, made more likely by climate change; 

  • In 2022, the UK received 6% below average rainfall (1991 – 2020), but there has been a slight increase in heavy rainfall in recent decades;

  • Sea level around the UK has risen by 18.5cm since 1900’s, but the rate is increasing with over 60% of this (11.4cm) occurring over the past 30 years; 

  • Overall, 2022 leaf-on season was 7 to 16 days longer than average due to extended spring and autumn seasons;  

  • Projections show that without rapid, globally concerted efforts to reduce emissions, the recent changes observed in UK climate are set to increase. 

Read the full report here.  


From Adaptation Scotland:

Across all emission scenarios presented in the UK climate projections produced by the Met Office UK, there is a general consensus that Scotland’s future climate will be characterised by:

  • Average temperatures increasing across all seasons;

  • Our weather will remain variable and may become more variable;

  • Typical summers will be warmer and drier;

  • Typical winters will be milder and wetter;

  • Intense, heavy rainfall events will increase in frequency in both winter and summer;

  • Sea levels will rise;

  • There will be fewer days / periods of frost and snowfall.


Ultimately the amount of change that occurs will depend on how successful we are in reducing greenhouse gas emissions globally.

Section 2 - What are our current mitigation activities?  


Surge has a robust Environmental Policy and Carbon Management Plan which details the multiple approaches we take to reducing carbon emissions in line with Scotland’s pathway to Net Zero.  Surge approaches this as follows:

By taking an evidence-led approach to reducing carbon emissions:  Surge has been recording its travel (via and energy emissions (via Tenants’ Energy Toolbox) since 2019 in order to monitor its emissions and therefore create a carbon management plan that puts into place actions to reduce its carbon footprint. 


By implementing our carbon management plan, which is reviewed annually (via Creative Carbon Scotland reporting):  through data collection we have identified that our largest output of carbon is via flights (2022-23:  1191kgCO2e) and travel excluding flights (2022-23:  2287kgCO2e).  We have the following actions in place:  

  • target reductions in international plane use: promote slow travel as an option for international artists travelling to Surge Festival to perform; to raise funding for green travel in order to be able to continue to promote green travel options for Surge Festival, recognising that "slow travel" via ferries/ trains is more expensive in cost of tickets and in artist time.  

  • we are investigating greener forms of domestic transport, such as hiring electric vans for touring or using bus companies that have electric buses when we hire coaches for our residencies. 


By ensuring that we reduce our emissions resulting from energy consumption and utilities:  Surge is with a renewable energy supplier that specialises in sustainable energy.


By focussing on reusing rather than recycling:  Surge sought out a repurposed building for its offices.  Surge has a costumes and props area at the Surge studio where artists can borrow items for rehearsals.  This includes a storage space with materials for making props and costumes, which are also available to artists and makers.  This materials bank gets added to by Surge and artists using our spaces as projects are finished.  


By focussing on new areas that we can target reductions in:  we intend to research and create new policies that will assist us with carbon reduction, e.g. a Digital Use Policy, recognising the value in reducing carbon emissions created via our everyday use of IT.  Surge plans to increase our evidence-led approach by collecting data for staff working from home and staff commuting to work, which will enable us to have a more accurate picture of our carbon footprint and therefore enable us to put a plan in place to reduce these emissions.  


By ensuring that there is funding in place to ensure that the carbon reduction targets can be met:  written into funding applications, e.g. the use of electric vehicles may require an increased budget line.  For 2 consecutive years Surge has raised £500/ year from a funding source towards green travel for artists for the festival.


By ensuring we have the resources in place in order to deliver our policies:  looking at capacity and training for staff:  2 staff members are Green Champions for the organisation and have completed Carbon Literacy Training in 2023, we are members of the Green Arts Initiative.  Surge are members of the Springboard Cohort:  Producing The Future of Theatre and Dance in Scotland, currently focussing on developing a potential range of events/training for the Scottish theatre and dance sector to build confidence in carbon literacy and use of the Theatre Green Book.  


By sharing our successes and failures:  by being part of the conversation via the Cohort and Creative Carbon Scotland we can learn from other organisations and share our stories.


By prioritising emissions reductions over offsets: Surge has signed up with Clear to offset our residual emissions, however we recognise that actions need to be in place to reduce our emissions to as close to zero as possible.


By keeping in line with current Scottish Government policy.


Section 3 - How will climate change impact Surge:  consequences and risk?  


Surge is developing an understanding about the changing climate, how these changes will impact Surge and how to address these.


The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Adaptation Programme: Climate Ready Scotland identifies 15 key consequences of climate change:

Picture 1.jpg

(Source:  Adaptation Scotland)


Adaptation Scotland have a fuller outline of each of these impacts here.  


Many consequences identified above could impact Surge and these consequences are often interlinked, as outlined below:


  • Climate change and associated extreme weather events have the potential to disrupt transport and the roads network.  This could have the following impacts on our work:  

o   Audiences are unable to attend our touring performances and our annual festival in Glasgow;

o   Artists are not able to access our Glasgow-based rehearsal space;

o   Participants are not able to attend street theatre workshops across Scotland;

o   This could affect our ability to tour to rural and harder-to-reach locations in Scotland;

o   Our supply chains are disrupted in terms of ordering and the delivery of equipment and infrastructure for the festival.   

o   Staff, freelancers and volunteers could struggle to reach our events safely. 

  • Extreme weather events could make it difficult for staff to travel into work.

  • On the SEPA website, the area around our office on Cadogan Street is at low risk of river flooding but medium risk of surface water flooding.  This may affect the use of the car park, or people getting in and out of the building. If climate change becomes very severe there is a risk to our building, for example from flooding from the River Clyde.  This could also affect where we can tour to if key areas in Scotland are at risk of flooding.

  • We are in a building that has no cooling systems and therefore the building could become difficult to work in if the summers become warmer.

  • We have a significant amount of costumes and props that we store for our touring projects, which could be at risk of humidity, heat damage or an increase in pests.

  • Climate change has the potential to disrupt energy and communications networks in Scotland and around the world.  This could affect supply chains, raise insurance costs and create difficulties in how we communicate with our partners, artists and audiences. 

  • One of the key sectors Surge works within is outdoor arts and there are risks from climate change that can affect this work, for example extreme weather such as flooding, heat and wind can affect whether outdoor performances can happen safely and whether audiences can reach performance sites.

  • Loss of workdays if safe working temperatures cannot be maintained. 

  • A risk to our organisation is another worldwide pandemic, as seen with the recent Covid-19 outbreak and the devastating impact the pandemic had on the cultural sector in the UK and globally.

  • As global climate changes there will be disruption to international food supply networks, including disruption of transport networks.  As the climate warms, there could be a scarcity of water and a reduction in the type and quantity of crops grown worldwide.  This affects us in terms of providing food to artists and staff members during our festival and while on tour, and also to the health and wellbeing of Surge staff, artists and audiences.


Section 4 – what actions can we take to adapt to these changes?


In many cases, actions can be taken in order to address the risks and adapt to the changes in climate, preparing our staff and organisation where possible:


  • Ensure we buy locally rather than importing goods and services from outwith the UK;

  • Use prop and resources swap shops where possible;

  • Order supplies earlier than required in case of disruption;

  • Talking to our landlord about building adaptations, find out if they are planning to take any measures to protect the property and keep it open during extreme weather; 

  • Ensure that our costumes and props are protected from the sun in storage to avoid being damaged and check regularly to ensure no costumes are damaged by mould or pests.

  • Ensuring that there is a climate adaptation and mitigation agenda point at every production meeting; 

  • Looking at outdoor performance sites with a view to the impact of its surroundings, e.g. is the site near a river that can potentially flood?  Can we provide shade to our audiences in case of a heatwave?  Can we provide drinking water to our audiences in case of hotter weather?

  • Develop a plan when touring in case of problems, e.g. finding out if there is a back up venue or site available, research where to get temporary equipment if required.

  • Sign up to Floodline Scotland to monitor flood risk;

  • Keep our insurance updated in terms of climate change and increased risk of e.g. flooding; 

  • Consider moving our events to May/June time when the weather may be less wet and therefore safer from cancellation due to extreme weather events. 


Section 5 – What potential opportunities are arising from climate change for Surge?


While Surge recognises the damaging nature of climate change, there are potential opportunities which result from this change and these have been identified below:


  • Outdoor arts would have a longer performance season if the summers become longer, hotter and drier; 

  • One of the reasons Surge’s tech box project was set up was to be able to translate performances and work into digital format, which may have to occur more often due to climate change; 

  • If international travel becomes disrupted and breaks down, there is an opportunity to focus further on building the Scotland and UK-based sector, and strengthening relationships with the communities we work in;

  • Our building is within an area that has low risk of river flooding, it could become a safe haven for local artists and communities;

  • Surge, as part of the arts and culture sector in Scotland, is aware of the powerful influence that culture and creativity can have on audiences in terms of the messages and insights it can provide on the climate emergency.  There are opportunities for Surge to engage communities and audiences in themes of sustainability and the environment through our professional development programmes, participant engagement programmes and our artistic programming. 


Examples of Surge’s previous work developed with environmental themes: 

  • Our Community Street Theatre project produced a new street theatre act – The Turtles - which was devised by students at New College Lanarkshire in 2020.  This new act has a very clear environmental message around plastic waste in the sea and has been performed by community participants in different locations in Scotland:  Surge Festival (Glasgow), McLellan Arts Festival (Arran), Findhorn Bay Arts Festival (Moray).

  • In 2020 our outdoor arts bursary focussed on the environment:  we worked with Martha Orbach who makes work about our relationship with the environment and migration and she created the show “To Build A Home”.

  • Adrenalism were also awarded a bursary and created the show “Hey Idiots:  Text Me Your Climate Change Solutions”, a satirical show about climate change, which has since toured nationally.

  • Artistic programming in our annual Festival e.g. Cocoloco - Willy & Wally;

  • In 2021 Surge provided space in kind for artists involved in COP26 in Glasgow, including the team touring Little Amal.  Surge’s bursary artists performed at The People’s Coalition Summit and at Kelvingrove Park, engaging audiences in environmental themes.

Section 6 - What support and resources are available to assist us? 


  • Two Surge staff members are Green Champions for the organisation and have completed Carbon Literacy Training in 2023.

  • There are many organisations that have experience in and knowledge of Climate Adaptation that can support our sector in developing a strong plan for adaptation, such as:


Þ   Creative Carbon Scotland

Þ   The Sustainable Scotland Network

Þ   Adaptation Scotland

Þ   Climate Ready Glasgow


  • Surge are members of the Springboard Cohort:  Producing The Future of Theatre and Dance in Scotland, currently focussing on developing a potential range of events/training for the Scottish theatre and dance sector to build confidence in carbon literacy and use of the Theatre Green Book.  Being a member of the cohort gives Surge access to invaluable peer support, advice and knowledge of further resources, as well as being part of a sector network that is pro-active towards issues around climate change.  

  • When working on our projects and festival, Surge will refer to The Theatre Green Book and adhere to the standards set out within the resource.  

  • When working within local communities, Surge can reach out to local environmental groups to gain local knowledge of the environment and adapt plans accordingly.

  • Surge will continue to try to raise funding to support adaptation actions where possible.

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