Shipping of artworks

Gallery Climate Coalition (GCC) has announced a Sustainable Shipping Campaign.

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The Gallery Climate Coalition (GCC), a not-for-profit group of galleries, auction houses and advisers, has announced a Sustainable Shipping Campaign championing sea over air.

Transporting an artwork by air has on average 60 times the climate impact of moving it the same distance by sea.

For reasons of convenience and to appease insurers traditional ly unfavourable to transporting valuables by sea, most art is moved via flights.

However, in what the GCC describes as a “major breakthrough”, it is working with representatives of Lloyds Market Association Joint Specie Committee to develop best-practice guidelines for the insurance of artworks travelling using sea freight.

Adam Prideaux, managing director of insurance firm Hallett Independent, said: “It was easy to get insurers together but it was not easy to get them to agree on some kind of consensus. So, getting so many on board has been fabulous. We now have Lloyds guidelines which is a huge step.”

‘Insurers must get on board’

Prideaux believes customer demand wi ll ultimately bring change: “Remember, this is a competitive market: insurers must either get on board or they will not be able to insure in the art market.”

In April, Christie’s (a member of GCC) announced it will trial moving art works by sea rather than air (as reported in ATG No 2539).

Working with storage and logistics firm Crozier, the auction house has begun trialling a monthly container service for the transportation of artworks between London and New York, and every two months between London and Hong Kong.

Tom Woolston

Tom Woolston, Christie’s global head of operations.

Tom Woolston, Christie’s global head of operations, said: “The most recent Art Basel/UBS Art Market report stated that 68% of collectors wanted to use alternative delivery methods to reduce carbon emissions, so we know the will is there. We need to work together to change our collective behaviours and embrace more sustainable standards.”

GCC has more than 800 members internationally who have agreed to the target of a 50% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, in line with the Paris Agreement.

Its new campaign seeks to address the issues surrounding artwork transportation, set new standards and “motivate the art world to take collective action”.

Heath Lowndes

The Gallery Climate Coalition's (GCC) Heath Lowndes.

GCC’s Heath Lowndes said: “It has taken us two years of preparation to get to this: from research to interviews with specialists, suppliers and stakeholders. As a result we have a clearer idea of the issues and where the solutions lies.

“These are ambitious goals and will be tough to meet but they are definitely achievable and very much needed.”

The new targets, set by the Sustainable Shipping Campaign, include:

• Make the majority of international art freight transported via non-air methods with an overall reduction in volume by 2028.

• Make the majority of packing materials in circulation to be reusable or locally recyclable by 2026 (and the phase-out of single-use plastic products with zero-waste by 2030).

• All local deliveries to be low or zero emissions by 2025.

• All freight companies and sales teams to provide standardised emissions data by 2024.