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Massive Attack tackle touring’s carbon footprint

UK band Massive Attack have commissioned academics to examine the most efficient ways of reducing the live industry's carbon impact

By Anna Grace on 29 Nov 2019

Massive Attack tackle touring's carbon footprint

Robert Del Naja (3D) of Massive Attack at the Eurockéennes de Belfort Festival

image © Festival Eurockéennes/Rod le Hiboo

Bristol band Massive Attack are the latest UK act to tackle the live industry’s environmental impact, teaming up with researchers to map the carbon footprint of typical tour cycles.

In an article published in the Guardian, Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja (3D) announced that the band are commissioning Manchester University’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to look at “three key areas” where Co2 is emitted in the music industry: band travel and production; audience transport; and venues.

The resulting “roadmap to decarbonisation” will be shared with other touring acts, promoters, festival organisers and venue owners to encourage and facilitate a reduction in carbon emissions across the industry.

“Every industry has varying degrees of carbon impact to address and we need partnerships like this one to look at reducing carbon emissions across the board,” comments Dr Chris Jones, a research fellow at Tyndall.

“It’s more effective to have a sustained process of emissions reductions across the sector than for individual artists to quit live performances. It will likely mean a major shift in how things are done now, involving not just the band but the rest of the business and the audience.”

“It’s more effective to have a sustained process of emissions reductions across the sector than for individual artists to quit live performances”

Last week, Coldplay announced their decision to put a pause on touring, due to environmental concerns. The 1975 and Billie Eilish are among other high-profile artists to work to reduce the carbon footprint of upcoming tours.

While Del Naja notes that stopping touring altogether is “an important option that deserves consideration”, an unrealistic number of high number acts would have to do so in order to “achieve the required impact”.

Carbon offsetting initiatives, such as planting tress, banning single-use plastic and encouraging the use of public transport, says Del Naja, are also unlikely to deliver any meaningful impact.

“Given the current polarised social atmosphere, uplifting and unifying cultural events are arguably more important now than ever, and no one would want to see them postponed or even cancelled,” says Del Naja.

“The challenge therefore is to avoid more pledges, promises and greenwashing headlines and instead embrace seismic change.”

To help reduce the environmental impact of artists’ riders, Coda Agency and A Greener Festival (AGF) launched the Green Artist Rider at the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) in March. Tickets for GEI 2020 are available here.

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