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Science Museum Group announces major focus on sustainability for 2021

New event series Climate Talks to launch in January and run until the start of COP26 in November, featuring an international line-up of speakers.

The National Railway Museum and Science Museum Group have announced a major focus on sustainability and climate change in 2021. This will involve a commitment to engaging visitors and digital audiences with the science and solutions to the urgent challenges facing our planet.

From January 2021, a new, 11-part series of Climate Talks featuring world-renowned experts in the field of climate science, will lead public engagement in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021.

This will feature free online events as well as paid-for events running at the National Railway Museum in York.

Details of the event listings will be confirmed next year, but speakers will include climate scientists, astronauts, engineers, industry leaders, activists, journalists, politicians and high-profile cultural figures involved in climate solutions. 

Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum, said: “Climate change is an issue that affects us all and as members of the world’s leading group of science museums, it is right that the National Railway Museum is involved in the debate. Sustainability is increasingly a thread that runs through all our future planning from our Vision 2025 masterplan to our public programme and I look forward to confirming the first of our Climate Talks.”

The Climate Talks will confront and debate some of the most pressing issues around climate science and the solutions to tackle the most urgent threat to planet Earth and humanity.

Topics for the first wave of events, available to book from today, range from global greenhouse gas removal and the clean energy revolution to how the work of astronauts and space research is helping us track the effects of climate change more accurately than ever before.

See full details of the programme.

Astronaut Tim Peake said: “Climate change is the greatest challenge that we are facing today. From space, it is clear to see how human activity is changing the face of our planet and striking to witness the fragility of life on Earth, sustained by such a thin, precious atmosphere. Earth observation satellites are providing vital data to aid our understanding of climate change, but it is only our actions that can make a difference.”

A decade after the Science Museum opened its climate science gallery Atmosphere—which has now been visited by more than five 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.

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. At the National Collections Centre in Wiltshire, construction is nearing completion for 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.  

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


Notes to editors

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 carbon emissions by 69%, from its operations despite increasing floor area by 24% as a result of mergers and Masterplan developments;
  • 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 trees a year on its own land throughout this decade. We will plant this year’s 1000 trees at the end of next month with our partners the Woodland Trust during National Tree week;
  • In 2005, the Science Museum became the first national museum to install solar panels on its roof;
  • 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.