; Sustainable music festivals - Strive to Zero

Tomorrowland, Glastonbury, Primavera Sound, Rock in Río… we are reaching the end of the summer, and with that, the end of the high peak of music festival’s season. After the long break due to the Covid pandemic, music festivals and touring have returned with all their full force, and that leads us to think if it would not be the right time to change how we experience live music.

Many famous musicians are raising awareness about climate change emergency. The American singner Jack Johnson is one of a growing number of artists promoting more eco friendly concerts. During his “Meet the Moonlight Tour” a reusable-pit-cup program and water refiling stations were made available to reduce waste. David Guetta is also aware of how much waste is generated in concerts and requires not to use plastic, all cups and related to be reusable, and the food to be served in the backstage to be organic and locally sourced.

Environmental impact of music events

Coldplay, back in 2019 announced that they would not be touring in support of its album, “Everyday life” because of environmental concerns. Now, they have pledged to cut CO2 emissions on their 2022 world tour by 50% compared with their 2016-17 world tour. They have designed a wide range of initiatives to mitigate their concerts environmental impacts such as reducing flight to a minimum, the use of a “kinetic floor” to harness energy through the passing of fans accessing the event, or the use of solar panels on the floors or open-air stadiums, to generate power in the run-up of the show.

Environmental impact from music tours and festivals are not just the carbon intensive way that musicians travel from one city to the other or the amount of waste generated. Glastonbury draws around two hundred thousand people daily, while Coachella hosts about ninety-nine thousand. Audience travel makes up for the major emissions of an event, as well as the power used to run the lighting, audio, and special effects during the spectacle in not renewable energy sourced, while there are other impacts that should not be deemed irrelevant either, such as the materials used in the infrastructure and merchandising, the use of water, food sourcing and waste recycling, as well as impacts to the biodiversity, including light pollution or soil compaction.

Eco friendly and sustainable music festivals

The AGF Awards is a pioneering certification setting the standard for sustainable music festivals and events. Each application requires and on-site independent audit, including a post-event evidence analysis. The assessment includes power usage, transport, material usage, water and sanitation, as well as relations with the local community and ecosystems, or communication practices. The festival carbon footprint is a requirement and, according to 2019 report, which covered festivals in 16 countries, the average festival produces 2,300 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which can be compared to the annual emission of 500 typical passenger car emissions in the EEUU.

Measuring is the first step to understand your environmental impact. Either if your company hosts a festival or an event, or you are attending the venue as a participant, understanding where your greatest impacts are is the first step to re-design your way to plan and carry out your event. We can see now that it is not the same planning a worldwide tour, such as Coldplay’s “Music of the Spheres” World Tour 2022, or a music festival like Coachella that can gather over 120 music bands in a 6-days festival. Control and space for decision making upon each emission source may vary. Therein lies the importance of calculating the event’s carbon footprint where emissions are allocated depending on the operational control we may have upon them. We will be able, therefore, to fully decide upon direct emissions and make influencing decisions upon indirect emissions along our event life cycle.

Establishing sustainable initiatives, once the impacts are understood, will be the next step. In order to ensure a successful outcome, all these initiatives must be planned in advance. Festivals and events require a huge effort in preparation while their average duration only lasts 3.5 days according to AGF 2019 report. Gathering information will play a significant role. Would the use of renewable energy be an option, will there be space for solar panels as Coldplay team proposes, or will green sourced energy need to be purchased thorough EACs (Energy Attributes Certificates). Strategies may vary as well among different types of venues, and partnerships will be essential to address a wider range of impacts.

Although responsible resource consumption and greener technologies will probably permit greener events in a near future, we need to be aware by now that carbon emissions may be drawdown to a minimum but not absolutely avoided. Investing in environmental projects would be the ultimate solution for these unavoidable emissions. Carbon offsets offer companies the opportunity to invest in projects that reduce, avoid or capture carbon from the atmosphere, while benefiting biodiversity, social communities or creating a greener future through the development of new technologies.

You can change the legacy. Get in touch with us – our team is ready to help you start your journey to net zero.

Written by Thamar Paniagua