Science and Industry Museum to explore ideas for a better world as ‘Manchester Science Festival’ line up is announced

Science and Industry Museum gears up to explore ideas for a better world as Manchester Science Festival line up is announced

Royal Photographic Society’s Science Photographer of the Year. Brian Eno and ClientEarth. Manchester Science Festival Young People Panel. Royal Society. Zamzam Ibrahim. James Lovelock. Helen Czerski. Samira Ahmed. BBC Planet North and more.

The Science and Industry Museum is preparing for 10 days of online scientific celebration as Manchester Science Festival goes digital between 12 -21 February 2021. Further socially distanced, onsite activities, including UK premieres and a dedicated special event programme for families will also take place later in the year, supporting Manchester’s cultural, economic and skills recovery.

Manchester Science Festival has been a key event in the city’s cultural calendar since 2007. This year’s event is a cornerstone of the Science Museum Group’s major public programme focused on climate and solutions to the urgent challenges facing the world ahead of COP26, the 26th United Nations Convention on Climate Change, happening in Glasgow this November, when world leaders and delegates will convene to develop an international response to the climate emergency.

As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester was the catalyst for scientific innovation and unprecedented change worldwide. Now, with Greater Manchester’s vision of becoming carbon-neutral by 2038, the city is primed to influence future progress. The festival will support this through a programme that encourages communities, scientists and activists to advance ideas for a better world.

The museum has unveiled a programme of free online talks, exhibitions, debates and activities to enjoy from home this February while it remains temporarily closed.


An extensive programme of digital activities will include a range of engaging and thought-provoking events.

Track the global story of climate change with the The Royal Photographic Society’s Science Photographer of the Year competition, which will now be showcased digitally from Manchester for the first time in a captivating online exhibition that depicts how science, technology and engineering are addressing this urgent issue. It will exhibit stunning images, selected from over 1,000 entries taken by both expert and amateur photographers, including budding artists aged 17 and under, who submitted their photos as part of a specific competition for young people.

Hear from those at the forefront of the fight against our altering climate in Changing The System as renowned musician and climate campaigner, Brian Eno, joins ClientEarth founder, James Thornton, to discuss how to use the power of law to combat climate change, protect the environment and build a future in which people and the planet thrive together.

Join an expert panel in Earth, but not as we know it: Lovelock’s legacy and our future as they respond to specially-recorded provocations from Dr James Lovelock, the 101-year-old scientist who studied at The University of Manchester and created the influential yet controversial Gaia Hypothesis (the theory that organic and inorganic components of the Earth have evolved together as a single living, self-regulating system). The panel will be made up of a range of expert voices, each bringing a different perspective to the debate. This includes writer and broadcaster Gaia Vince, who has travelled the world extensively to research this unique time in Earth’s history, in which increasing human activities are changing the planet as never before; climate activist and scientist, Professor Chris Rapley, CBE, whose celebrated career has recently seen him focused on the role of climate scientists in delivering value to society through decision making, public policy and more effective communication; and Zamzam Ibrahim, who grew up in Greater Manchester and is now Vice President of European Students Union. Zamzam has led on a number of campaigns tackling social injustices, including climate justice specifically within the education system.

Manchester born physicist, oceanographer and BBC broadcaster, Dr Helen Czerski, will ask the question, ‘How can I be a good citizen of the world?’ during a series of three lively discussions about transport, food and social justice with communities and campaigners who are making a difference. Helen will be joined by a wide-ranging panel of local guests, including the Mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett, and Director of Open Kitchen MCR, Manchester’s leading sustainable catering company, Corin Bell.

Manchester Science Festival’s Young People Panel are a team of budding Greater Manchester researchers and curators aged 14 – 24 who have been working across the festival to ensure the voices and interests of young people are represented. Join them at a special one-off online event, Let’s talk about eco-anxiety. Chaired by Nile Henry, founder and CEO of The Blair Project, the event will bring together the audience, a panel of young people and a number of climate enthusiasts, including Newsround presenter Martin Dougan, environmentalist Mya-Rose Craig and University of Bath Lecturer Caroline Hickman, for an insightful discussion about this contemporary challenge.

Home audiences can also tune into a livestream of the Royal Society’s You and the planet: air. Its expert panel will be tackling the important issue of air quality and how we can improve this and, subsequently, life on earth. Air pollution also has a major detrimental effect on our environment and without urgent action, global temperatures will continue to increase, as will extreme weather and damage to biodiversity. But what can be done to tackle the problem and how can clean, fresh steps forward be taken? The panel of expert academics and researchers will be attempting to clear the air by exploring solutions to this urgent issue, chaired by the Guardian’s North of England editor, Helen Pidd.

During The Electricity Revolution – Our Zero Carbon Future, a panel will examine the big changes happening around how electricity is generated and delivered. From low carbon electricity to heat our homes or charge our cars, to generating our own power through solar panels, an electricity revolution is in progress. Hear from the company that owns, operates and manages the electricity network that connects every home and business in the North West from Cheshire to Cumbria, and which is at the forefront of this revolution locally, Electricity North West. During this online event, audiences can discover more about its innovative work, discuss the future of energy and find out just how fundamental electricity is to how we live.

How can we stop fossil fuels from harming our planet? That’s the question Professor Myles Allen will be answering during The Road to Carbon Zero online talk, alongside one of the museum’s own expert Explainers. Find out more about what climate change means, hear about Professor Allen’s ideas for a Carbon Takeback Obligation and learn how his research could be used to help the UK achieve its net zero target by 2050. Viewers will also have the chance to ask their own question during a live Q&A session.

Our Hydrogen Future will help audiences to understand more about the universe’s most abundant element and how it holds the key to decarbonising our gas supply and achieving our carbon reduction targets. The event will be hosted by Cadent Gas, which bring gas to 11 million homes and businesses throughout the North West, West Midlands, East Midlands, South Yorkshire, East of England and North London. It is at forefront of developing the science and infrastructure that will enable low carbon hydrogen to heat our homes and power our transport.

There will also the opportunity to join Fazlun Khalid, author and founder of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, in A Liveable Earth: Climate change and faith community, to discuss the consequences of our lifestyles, how we can leave a liveable Earth for future generations, and whether faith communities play the role of bystander or agent of change.

Sally MacDonald, Director of the Science and Industry Museum, said: “The vital role museums play in providing fun, welcoming and engaging spaces, both physically and online, has never been more important. Although these are extremely tough times for everyone, we are taking the opportunity to create a digital offer that will continue to bring the joy of the museum directly into people’s homes.

“Our museum is home to ideas that change the world and continues to reflect and inspire innovators of the future and we’re working hard to find new ways of igniting curiosity while our doors remain closed. Manchester Science Festival is a major part of this, supporting communities, scientists and activists to explore and advance ideas for a better world.

“As we all continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic, Manchester Science Festival will look and feel different this year, but we have created a compelling digital programme that will deliver memorable experiences to audiences across the city and beyond.”

The Science and Industry Museum has also joined forces with local BBC radio stations from across the North of England to launch Planet North, an initiative that has been shining a spotlight on environmental issues. Look out for content from Planet North Champions, a team of young people from across the North of England who are passionate about the environment and challenges facing our planet, exploring how the actions of young people, and us all, can help towards a better future.

Events are now available to book with more activities including activities families can do at home being added in the coming weeks. All events are free, with donations welcome to support the museum’s work. To view the full line up and to book, visit

Changing the system: Brian Eno and James Thornton in conversation and Earth, but not as we know it: Lovelock’s legacy and our future form part of the Science Museum Group’s year-long Climate Talks series, more of which can be viewed and booked online.


The museum’s aspiration is to host more of the events that were due to take place onsite during February at a later date when its doors reopens.

Family fun will be the focus of activities during the early summer months, when visitors of all ages will have the chance to experience a range of exciting, socially distanced, climate-themed activities. Whether it’s waving goodbye to fast fashion and embracing upcycling, taking away tips for a more sustainable diet, being entertained by shows and performances or exploring cutting-edge green technology, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

In June, live audiences can join award-winning journalist, Samira Ahmed, for the through-provoking Future of Fuel debate. The fuel we use to power our world is one of the biggest contributing factors affecting the UK’s carbon footprint. Samira will lead the conversation with a diverse panel of scientists, policy makers, energy supplier and campaigners to discuss how our society could use the most up-do-date fuel research and technology to reduce UK emissions and tackle the climate crisis.

Manchester Science Festival’s programme will also extend to November, when events will be hosted at the museum to coincide with COP26, the 26th United Nations Convention on Climate Change being held in Glasgow. Visitors can get to grips with some of science’s most cutting-edge developments in the fight against climate change during a series of special events and performances.

More details of the onsite activities will be revealed later this month.

Manchester Science Festival has been generously supported by Chiesi Ltd (Major Sponsor), Waters Corporation (Major Sponsor), Electricity North West (Sponsor), Cadent Gas (Event Sponsor) and Renold (Supporter).

The Science and Industry Museum was required to close its doors once again in October following Government restrictions and looks forward to welcoming visitors back later in 2021.