Some people are natural sceptics and others are enthusiastic, there was indeed a mixed reaction when we broached the idea of a carbon efficient Corrie with the cast and crew. I don’t think any of us thought that embracing sustainable working would lead to all of the positive changes it has done.
Over the last two and a half years we have invested in making Coronation Street the most resourceful, efficient and carbon conscious it can be. We have invested in low energy lighting, operate on a renewable energy tariff, reduced our printing considerably and continue to support any suggestion from our departments that help them work in a more carbon efficient manner.
When we moved Coronation Street to Trafford we realised there was a great opportunity to improve the eco credentials of the show. Aside from upgrading to more efficient premises, the move also happily coincided with ITV’s involvement in the creation of the Carbon Literacy course; training that enables those in production to understand more about environmental impacts and improvement.
Initial uncertainly about how best to proceed was soon quashed after sending over 80 Corrie colleagues on the training. The course educated us in the science behind climate change and what we could do in our roles in production to tackle it. Of course, this has empowered people to take the lead in reducing the show’s carbon footprint in their area, whether it be on or off camera.
Coronation Street has been measuring its carbon footprint for a number of years, but we were aware that even if we achieved carbon neutrality we would have passed up a massive opportunity for carbon reduction by not speaking to our audience about sustainability. With huge audiences and being very accessible, continuing drama is a fantastic vehicle to help normalise any the kind of behavioural change we need society to engage with.
Climate change is a reasonably difficult topic to incorporate into a storyline but this is something we try and do when true to character and appropriate to the story. We’ve installed a complete set of recycling bins into the guinnell, the pharmacy use an electric vehicle, which has seen an electric charging point installed on the street, we’ve run storylines featuring upcycling and a sustainable wedding and we are always on the lookout for more.
I was quite clear from the start that I didn’t want to be Corrie’s ‘green’ guy, there is no way I could have achieved everything alone. The Coronation Street team is quite remarkable and full of clever, talented, creative and skilled people. The key to unlocking the breadth of improvements we have achieved has been to involve the whole team in helping to solve the problem.
Coronation Street has a long history of winning awards, but our recent big win at the Oberver’s Ethical Business awards in the Film and TV category was really special. What helped us clinch the win was how we are trying to normalise sustainable behaviour editorially as well as our work to promote carbon literacy amongst our crews. We all know that to tackle climate change we must change how we behave both in and out of work. I hope the work Corrie has done helps the industry see this change not as a burden but as an opportunity to get better at lots of things. It is difficult but so are lots of elements of programme making and we must engage with this with as much enthusiasm and commitment as we would anything – no programme maker worth their salt should shy away from an issue just because it’s challenging. I think people are starting to see that.