Royal Court Theatre: A credible plan for a just transition to carbon net zero through 2020

  • The goal is to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The Royal Court generates around 300 tonnes of carbon per year. Ours is a reduction and removal strategy combining carbon reduction and offsetting what remains.
  • We believe cultural organisations should lead on accelerating to net zero. Relative to other industries, London theatres do not generate significant Scope 1 emissions, our systems are more flexible, and our frameworks can be experimental.
  • Cultural organisations are also an important platform to inform, influence and communicate with the public. We believe our net zero strategy is transferrable to domestic living.
  • Climate and social justice underpins all of our strategy. We are led by unheard voices. We are triggering this transition in the same year we have committed to paying London Living Wage.


Strategic areas

  • Energy
  • Food and drink
  • Water, cleaning and chemicals
  • Travel and transport
  • Production
  • Waste
  • Ticketing, paper and communications


  • We commissioned a feasibility study from EnergyLab to assess our current heat and power systems and to explore generating power on site from renewable sources.
  • Our boilers are only 5 years old – it would not be a sustainable decision to scrap them.
  • We are a listed building in a dense urban site making heat pumps from air, ground heat & water sources impossible. 17 PV solar panels on the roof would reduce carbon by 1%
  • We procure 100% renewable electricity from Good Energy and carbon-neutral gas from Ecotricity – both British renewable suppliers. Nonetheless, the electricity grid is carbon-intensive and without the capacity to generate power on-site we are focusing on reduction targets.

Energy strategy

  • Proposed energy benchmarks: 120 kWh/m2/yr for electricity (a 37.5% reduction in usage) and 120 kWh/m2/yr for gas (a 16% reduction).
  • We will re-set the BMS operating times and settings, and continue replacing all lighting in the building with LED. We will designate responsibility for the t-mac sub-metering system to one person.
  • We will commission a thermographic survey to identify heat loss and fabric improvements.
  • We commit to long term 100% renewable energy suppliers and especially those moving to bio-gas. Our current suppliers offset any carbon involved in the energy supply.

Food and drink

  • We will reduce meat on the menu from 47% to 25%, favouring the least carbon intensive meats and fish.
  • We have commissioned sw-consulting to carbon cost our menu so we can calculate the carbon impact of all menu items and share that information publicly alongside price.
  • We will communicate clearly with customers about sustainable choices and the carbon hierarchy of meat, dairy, plant-based and seasonal food on offer.
  • We will continue our work with suppliers to procure ethical and local products and to minimise plastic and carbon in the delivery chain.
  • We will continue our commitment to zero waste to landfill, working with Sustainable Advantage.


  • We have installed flow restrictor valves, isolation valves, double flushing with reduced cistern capacity, and water saving shower heads.
  • We will switch to a chemical free Toucan cleaning system produced on site, avoiding chemicals, plastic containers and deliveries.
  • Grey water systems are not possible on our site but we will install rainwater butts for our small garden.

Travel & Transport

  • We will create a travel matrix calculator for international travel for staff and artists which measures price / time / carbon / time spent at destination to enable ethical decision-making.
  • No flying for mainland UK travel: digital meetings or train travel.
  • We will only use electric taxis, procured from Green Tomato.
  • We will support artists’ tight schedules when working on multiple global shows by giving them slow travel and rest days.
  • We will remove the 50% car park discount for audiences.
  • We will offset all international travel in partnership with eco-act. We currently use around 20 long haul flights per year, mainly in the Global South, to deliver our international programme.


  • We commit to a circular economy framework for physical production.
  • This framework will include core principles for design teams: banned materials, alternative materials, expectation-management around speed of process, re-use of physical elements.
  • We will extend / slow down the design deadline, build, turnaround and tech process to allow for research and ethical procurement.
  • We will work collaboratively with peers to share storage, materials and services.
  • We will use less power.


  • Reduce and reuse are the most important carbon reduction principles. The process of waste, including recycling, is highly carbon-intensive.
  • We work with Sustainable Advantage on a sophisticated recycling system from food compost to plastics and paper.
  • We will signpost staff and audiences to limit the waste they bring on-site, including recyclable products.

Ticketing, paper, communications

  • Printers have been replaced with greener models. We will benchmark how much print each department generates.
  • Our paper supply will be the greenest possible stock.
  • We hold 6 months’ worth of ticket stock which we will run down and move to digital first tickets.
  • We will move to paperless script submissions and reading.

Monitoring and review

    • At Heads of Departments and Staff Meetings we will share progress.
    • The Executive team will monitor this strategy throughout 2020.
    • We will share findings with the Board, staff, peers, ACE, the public and stake-holders.
    • In December 2020 we will do a full analysis of progress. Any remaining carbon in our operations will be offset.
    • We will create infographics for peers and the public of this strategy, and tools that can be used in their own settings.


We are working with…