New Writing North declared a Climate Emergency in autumn 2019. We were inspired by the young people’s climate strikes that took place that summer and following this felt that we needed to consider what we could do as an organisation to address this pressing global issue. We decided to do several things: to better understand our own carbon usage as an organisation, to begin the journey of reducing this and moving to become a Net Zero organisation and to focus some of our creative programme on this theme. Our new Environmental Sustainability Policy and board sub-group has set the agenda for this work and will monitor our progress. This autumn we are training all our staff, trustees and many of our regular freelance writers and practitioners in climate literacy.

In my role as a board member of the North East Cultural Partnership I’m leading on a process to look at how arts organisations and practitioners can work together regionally to enable speedier and more sustained change and what role our sector can play in the public communication of the risks of global warming. The NECP work supports the broader regional work of the North East England Climate Coalition which is working across sectors to galvanise work on environmental sustainability – you can sign up to the coalition to show your support and to see how organisations across the region are making positive change and I encourage you all to do so.

To begin to get onto the same page on this topic in 2019, New Writing North staff and trustees all read The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future by David Wallace-Wells and it was this book, which I highly recommend, which made us consider the powerful role that writers and storytellers could play in the Climate Emergency. This encouraged us to begin to look at commissioning and supporting more work on this theme.

We appointed Linda France as our Climate Writer-in-Residence two years ago with Newcastle University and we have been thrilled at the work and relationships that she has created during this important project. We are proud to have produced a new podcast series with Linda, In Our Element, that explores the climate crisis through the eyes of poets, writers and activists. It’s a great listen and a thoughtful way to consider how all of our responses, actions and thinking will help shape the future of the planet for generations to come. Below we share some of the work that we’ve produced this year; much of it is hot off the press of Durham Book Festival and timed to happen alongside COP26 which is taking place in Glasgow.

Please browse, watch, listen and enjoy the work below and let us know what you think, and if you can please share it with your networks. We all have a voice and role to play in this.

Claire Malcolm
Chief Executive – New Writing North