Britain's Natural History Museum declares ‘planetary emergency’ over climate change

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The Natural History Museum in the UK has declared a “planetary emergency” in response to humanity’s “destructive impact” on Earth.

The declaration coincides with this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where some of the museum’s scientists are speaking on climate issues.

The museum has also launched what it calls a “bold new manifesto” aimed at creating “advocates for the planet”.

The Natural History Museum joins a growing number of arts and culture organisations, including the National Theatre, which declared a “climate emergency” in 2019.

The wide-ranging initiative includes plans to build a centre to store 80 million specimens, launch a scheme to tackle urban biodiversity loss and set carbon reduction targets.

The 11-year strategy was influenced by Sir David Attenborough’s quote: “The future of the natural world, on which we all depend, is in your hands.”

A new page on the Natural History Museum’s website sets out the things that can be done to combat “deforestation, exploitation, urbanisation and global warming”.

Museum director Sir Michael Dixon said: “We are facing a planetary emergency.

“Humanity’s future depends on the natural world, but we are not taking effective action to combat our destructive impact on the planet’s survival systems

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Luke Jerram’s Gaia (The Trustees of the Museum/Natural History Museum/PA)</figcaption>
Luke Jerram’s Gaia (The Trustees of the Museum/Natural History Museum/PA)

“Climate change, biodiversity loss and extinctions, habitat destruction, pollution and deforestation are just some of the crises which all flow from unsustainable human activity.

“In this time of unprecedented threat, we need an unprecedented global response. Our strategy is built around our vision of a future where people and planet thrive.

“Our ethos is one of hope that by working together we can change the current path.”

Clare Matterson, the museum’s executive director of engagement, said: “An advocate for the planet is someone who can speak up for nature and is empowered to take action to protect it.

“From the children who visit our galleries to industry titans and international policy makers – we want to inspire, inform and empower everyone to make a difference for nature.

“We will do this through major new projects such as the UK-wide Urban Nature Project to tackle biodiversity loss across the country, create brand new galleries to engage our more than five million visitors who pass through our doors each year and build on our 20 million international reach and influence to speak up for the natural world with rigour and impact.”

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