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Music rallies for sustainability on Earth Day

With MDE, EarthPercent and similar initiatives, artists and industry figures are at the forefront of the fight against climate change

By IQ on 22 Apr 2021

Anna Calvi and Brian Eno are backing Music Declares Emergency

Anna Calvi and Brian Eno are backing Music Declares Emergency


Today (22 April) marks the 51st Earth Day and the culmination of a week of action aimed at raising awareness and securing support for the global movement for environmental protection.

With sustainability and green living higher on the world’s agenda than ever before, and ahead of the pivotal UN Climate Change Conference (Cop26) in November, this year’s Earth Day is considered the most important yet – and campaigners in the music industry are marking the date with a host of new initiatives, including a special summer edition of the Green Events and Innovations Conference and Live Nation’s new Green Nation Touring Program.

For Music Declares Emergency, Earth Day is the high point of a week-long series of actions and activities designed to ‘turn up the volume’ on its calls for both government action on climate change and a sustainable music industry.

Earth Day 2021 activities in support of the campaign, which launched in the UK in 2019 and has since expanded to Germany, Switzerland, France, Chile and Canada, include radio, internet and print interviews with its artist supporters; new designs for the ‘No Music on a Dead Planet’ T-shirt range, including a reworking of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures by Peter Saville; and the launch of a new Classical Declares group with Julian Lloyd Webber, Rachel Portman, Errollyn Wallen and more.

Music Declares’ supporter (‘declarer’) list now stands at over 5,000 organisations and individuals in the UK alone. For full details of its Earth Day activities, including events planned for this weekend, click here.

Formed in partnership with Music Declares Emergency, GEI organiser A Greener Festival and Julie’s Bicycle, a new initiative led by Brian Eno, EarthPercent, is asking artists, music companies and industry professionals to commit a small percentage of their revenue to organisations working to combat climate change.

“Many within the music industry want to do something to address the climate crisis but simply don’t know how”

Based in the UK and US, EarthPercent is designed to make it easy for the music industry to donate to the best environmental organisations, knowing that the expertise of EarthPercent’s partners will ensure the money reaches only those projects with “demonstrable and meaningful impact”.

Among the industry figures supporting EarthPercent are Mike Smith (Downtown Music Publishing), Jamie Oborne (Dirty Hit), Alison Donald (Kobalt) and Jackie Davidson MBE, while founding donors include Merck Mercuriadis, Fraser T. Smith and Coldplay.

“Our future depends on us having a healthy planet. But right now, our actions are severely damaging the environment,” says Brian Eno. “We need to act now and as quickly as possible to ensure that we keep our communities clean, healthy and thriving for generations to come.

“Many within the music industry want to do something to address the climate crisis but simply don’t know how, which is why EarthPercent is working with scientists and experts to identify and fund the most promising solutions.”

Coldplay and Eno are among the supporters of another new campaign launching today, Playlists for Earth, which calls on musicians and other creatives to use playlists to spark conversations about climate action.

The brainchild of environmental charity ClientEarth, Playlists for Earth uses song titles on playlists to spell out messages challenging listeners to do their part to save the planet, with Anna Calvi, alt-J, Tom Misch, Francisca Valenzuela and more also involved.

“We need to see a massive cultural change and an immediate government response”

“We should be talking about the climate crisis now more than ever, and taking action to protect the planet we love. We need to see a massive cultural change and an immediate government response,” says Calvi. “That’s why I wanted to be a part of Playlists For Earth: to spark conversation and explore what’s happening in the world in a new way in the lead up to the UN climate conference. It’s so important that we use our position in the arts to say something, as art really has the power to turn people’s attention to issues.”

Click here to listen to the playlists from more than 60 artists on Spotify.

Elsewhere, artists including Brothers Osborne, Lucie Silvas, Ricky Kej and Sza will take part in the second Earth Day Live, which is taking place from midday to 6pm EST today on EarthDay.org.

Workshops, panel discussions, and special performances will focus on Earth Day’s 2021 theme, ‘Restore Our Earth’, with topics including include climate and environmental literacy, climate restoration technologies, reforestation efforts, regenerative agriculture, equity and environmental justice, citizen science and clean-ups.

In addition to musicians, the summit will include world climate leaders, grassroots activists, non-profit innovators, thought leaders, industry leaders, influencers and more, say organisers.

Watch Earth Day Live 2021 live on YouTube here.


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