GEI Summer Edition saw industry “come of age”
The 14th edition of the Green Events and Innovations (GEI) conference saw the industry “come of age” on the subject of sustainability, according to the organisers.
Thursday’s (16 September) conference, presented by A Greener Festival (AGF) and the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), was the first-ever Summer Edition of GEI, with the virtual event supported by a raft of sponsors including Ecotricity, Live Nation, Res, Ticketmaster, Solcell and The Virtual Venue.
The event followed a hybrid model, with some speakers coming together at PYTCH’s Virtual Venue in Bristol, powered by 100% renewable energy. Others joined from their homes and were broadcast live to delegates from around the world.
“We had such a great time delivering the first hybrid GEI Summer Edition. Live speakers connected with powerful and inspiring individuals and organisations from all around the world, and a truly international interactive audience,” says AGF co-founder Claire O’Neill.
“Considering the crucial topics that GEI addresses, this global collaboration is heartwarming and hopeful, to say the least. With 14 years of GEI under our belts, it feels like the industry is coming of age on the subject of sustainability and the next step is to use our unparalleled power of communication connect these messages with the masses.”
“The next step is to use our unparalleled power of communication connect these messages with the masses”
The speaker line-up was packed with industry titans including Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Dale Vince (Ecotricity/Forest Green Rovers), Dave Ojay (NAAM Festival), Amber Etre (Christie Lites), Fay Milton (Savages/Music Declares Emergency) and Celia Palau Lodge (Cooking Vinyl Records).
Samm Farai Monro (Magamba Network), Meegan Jones (Sustainable Event Alliance/Great Ocean Race), Stuart McPherson (KB Event) and Jamal Chalabi (Backlash Productions) also topped the bill.
Highlights from the Summer Edition included an exclusive first look at LIVE Green’s declaration and voluntary charter and a follow-up discussion between John Langford (Live Green/ AEG Europe), Stuart Galbraith (Kilimanjaro Live), Clementine Bunel (Paradigm), artist Sam Lee and Chiara Badiali (Julie’s Bicycle).
Also featured at the conference was a presentation of a new roadmap for greener events, following the recent publication of research conducted by scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research under commission by Massive Attack.
The wider programme included panels on greener arenas and vendors as well as ‘ask the expert’ sessions, a quick-fire innovation round and deep dives on carbon removals and value chain planning for events.
AGF is now looking towards returning to live events with the next GEI Conference set to take place in March 2022. Find out more about the work of AGF at agreenerfestival.com.
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GEI enlists industry titans for summer edition
With less than four weeks to go, the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) has announced a new raft of panels and speakers for its Summer Edition.
The conference will be streamed online on 16 September via Hopin, with speakers joining both live and virtually from the Virtual Venue, powered by 100% renewable energy.
Newly announced speakers include Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Dave Ojay (NAAM Festival), Amber Etre (Christie Lites), Fay Milton (Savages) and Celia Palau Lodge (Cooking Vinyl Records).
Samm Farai Munro (Magamba Network), Meegan Jones (Sea, Great Ocean Race), Stuart McPherson (KB Event) and Jamal Chalabi (Backlash Productions) are also new to the billing.
LIVE will be giving delegates an exclusive first look at its ‘Live Green Declaration’
John Langford (AEG Europe), Stuart Galbraith (Kilimanjaro Live) and Clementine Bunel (Paradigm) are among the speakers who will be discussing the declaration, which sets out a vision for sustainability in the live industry.
The newly formed Tour Production Group (TPG) will also be delivering a key session at this year’s summer edition, ‘A Greener Tour – V for Vendor‘.
Moderated by TPG founder Wob Roberts, the session will delve into the opportunities, obstacles and actions for the greener tours of the near future, with a special focus on vendors.
The session will include Amber Etra (Christie Lights), Robert Trebus (d&b audiotechnik), Stuart McPherson (KB Event Ltd), Jamal Chalabi (Backlash Productions) and David NG Lawrence (DNG Production).
GEI is A Greener Festival’s annual flagship event, delivered in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in London. It has been running for over 13 years and welcomes delegates and speakers who are leaders in the event sector, sustainability and regenerative economies.
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Natural Resources to help you go greener
Whether you’re looking for environmental consultation to make your event greener or accreditation to show off your sustainability, below are a slate of organisations around the world dedicated to improving and verifying the sustainability of the events sector.
These organisations provide knowledge, resources, and best practice for event organisers, artists, suppliers and vendors – meaning that the first step towards a more sustainable sector doesn’t have to be the hardest.
Sustainable Event Alliance
Based in New South Wales but with partners all over the globe, the Sustainable Event Alliance (SEA) unites live events professionals who are focused on improving the sustainability of the sector. In addition to its online knowledge bank, the SEA’s activities include accrediting sustainability professionals, helping events become greener, and providing spaces for networking and discussion.
Green Operations Europe, known as GO Group, is a pan-European think tank that aims to inspire industry professionals to make their operations greener, smarter, and more sustainable. Initiated at the first International Green Events Conference in Bonn in November 2010, as a joint initiative of Yourope (the European Festival Association), Bucks New University in the UK, and Jacob Bilabel and Holger Jan Schmidt’s Green Music Initiative, the organisation connects festivals with scientists and environmental initiatives; delivers workshops and contributes to panel discussions; organises festival field trips; and helps certify Yourope’s member festivals as Clean’n’Green, among other activities.
Green Events International
Formed in 2014, Green Events works with Dutch and international partners to share knowledge, resources, and best practice for event organisers, artists, suppliers, vendors and more. Its areas of focus include water, energy, transport, and waste, with past projects having included the Plastic Promise, which saw leading festivals commit to eliminating single-use plastics, and ADE Green, a ‘green deal’ for European festivals launched at Amsterdam Dance Event 2019.
Greener Events, in full the Greener Events Foundation, was established in 2009 by international snowboarding ace Terje Håkonsen, and businessman and philanthropist Jan Christian Sundt. Offering environmental consultation and expertise in making events sustainable, Greener Events has worked with events including Tons of Rock, Øya Festival, Hove Festival, and Way Out West in Sweden, and consulted for Yourope and the European Festival Association.
A Greener Festival
A Greener Festival (AGF) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the sustainability of the events sector. In addition to its annual Green Events and Innovations Conference – which returns for a special summer edition on 16 September – AGF provides certification, training, CO2 analysis, and consultation for organisers, venues, tours, artists, festivals, sports, suppliers, and local authorities for all event types internationally, and also presents the annual International AGF Awards.
Chaired by John Langford, COO of AEG Europe, LIVE Green is one of four newly formed specialist subcommittees for Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment (LIVE), the umbrella organisation representing 13 UK live music industry associations. Bringing together the leading sustainability practitioners across the sector to produce a single environmental vision for live music, it sits alongside LIVE Touring, LIVE Venues, and an as-yet unnamed group focusing on diversity and inclusion.
Sustainability in Production Alliance (SiPA) is a global association of individuals and organisations across the production sector, including stage managers, manufacturers, tour & production managers, venues, producers, engineers, and technicians, who are working towards creating a sustainable future for the industry and a ‘triple bottom line’ of people, planet, and profit. It offers a range of resources free of charge to industry professionals, including ‘ten easy wins’ that can be implemented as a starting point today.
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Building Back Greener: Next steps for the live industry
One of few feel-good stories that has emerged from the more than year-long shutdown of nearly all normal life is the perception that the natural world is getting a long-overdue ‘break’ from humanity.
Emissions are down across the board, with 2.3 billion tons less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere in 2020 alone, and the quality of rivers and other large bodies of water has improved: parts of India’s Ganges and Yamuna rivers, for example, have become fit for drinking for the first time in decades.
Against the backdrop of such positive developments, as well as a heightened public awareness of the worsening climate crisis, the imminent return of concert touring – with its trucks and planes, its waste and its thirst for energy – could be a turning point for live music’s relationship with the natural environment.
This sense that the end of the pandemic is a fork in the road for the industry is heightened by the upcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, which will be the most important global sustainability event since the landmark Paris Agreement was signed at COP21 in 2015.
With Earth Day just passed, and COP26 coming into view, will the business decide to draw a line under the bad old days and commit to building a sustainable future, or will the rush to get back to business-as-usual leave environmental concerns in the dust?
“With the way the news is, and what we’re seeing globally, people are finally realising that [climate change] is an emergency”
For tour manager Jamal Chalabi (Bring Me the Horizon), who serves as sustainability facilitator for the UK’s Tour Production Group (TPG), the sacrifices of the past year will have been for nothing if the industry doesn’t use the pause in touring to bring forward positive change on sustainability.
Established in summer 2020 by around 60 tour and production managers, the formation of the TPG was driven by a feeling that “it was a really important time for us to come together to press reset,” explains Chalabi.
“We looked at all the things that we’d seen that we wanted to discuss and change – that was things like mental health and welfare, diversity and inclusion, and, of course, sustainability.”
From the TPG’s conversations with promoters, agents, venues, and vendors, Chalabi says he hopes there is a broad industry consensus emerging about the need to make touring sustainable. “I think people are finally ready for this change,” he continues.
“With the way the news is, and what we’re seeing globally, people are finally realising that this is an emergency.”
“If we can look at sustainability from a holistic point of view, it will make the live music sector more resilient [to future crises]”
The events of 2020, he adds, have demonstrated that the live industry isn’t divorced from climate change, many of the causes of which – including deforestation and habitat loss – are believed by scientists to contribute to the emergence and spread of epidemic diseases.
“The pandemic has shown that our industry isn’t as resilient as many people thought,” says Chalabi. “We were first to stop working and we’ll be the last back. If we can look at sustainability from a holistic point of view – intelligent spending, wasting less, streamlining our processes and adopting better practices – it will make the live music sector more resilient [to future crises].”
Several high-profile artists, notably Ellie Goulding, Massive Attack and Radiohead, have publicly criticised the environmental impact of concert touring – and Coldplay have gone so far as to say they will not tour until it’s possible to do so in a net-positive way – but for many, it’s obvious that real change will need a joined-up, pan-industry approach to the issue. As Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja said earlier this year, “One band not touring doesn’t change a thing.”
Same old story?
The importance of the TPG’s crusade is illustrated by research that shows the idea of nature being given a chance to recover by Covid-19 ignores the reality in much of the world. According to Conservation International, “there is a misperception that nature is ‘getting a break’ from humans during the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, many rural areas in the tropics are facing increased pressure from land grabbing, deforestation, illegal mining and wildlife poaching. People who have lost their employment in cities are returning to their rural homes, further increasing the pressure on natural resources while also increasing the risk of Covid-19 transmission to rural areas.
“There have been less emissions because aviation has almost stopped, but global emissions still hit a record high this year”
“Meanwhile, there are reports of increased deforestation in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Illegal miners and loggers are encroaching on indigenous territories, which could expose remote indigenous communities to the virus. Areas that are economically dependent on tourism face reduced resources as tourism has come to a halt, resulting in a rise in the consumption of bushmeat (from wild animals) in Africa. Meanwhile, illegal mining for gold and precious stones in Latin America and Africa is on the rise, as prices spike and protected areas are left unguarded.”
Hadi Ahmadzadeh, founder of sustainable nightlife consultancy Ecodisco, says that while a good narrative – nature ‘recovering’ from human impact – is often useful to get people on board with a movement, it can “sometimes hinder you in the long-term.”
He continues, “With Covid, yes, there have been less emissions because aviation has almost stopped, but global emissions still hit a record high this year. Also the use of single-use plastics has rocketed, with single-use bans being delayed and the widespread need for PPE [personal protective equipment]. So there hasn’t been a magic wand. It’s not a template for how we move forward.”
According to Moo, the British design and printing business best known for its create-your-own business cards, the mass production of single-use PPE during the pandemic is overwhelming recycling systems, leading to a large proportion of the 129 billion face masks used globally every month ending up in the sea.
The company recently partnered with the Ocean Agency, the non-profit creative agency behind projects such as Netflix’s Chasing Coral, to raise awareness of how PPE-derived plastics are exacerbating ocean pollution.
[Ecodisco] has plans in the works to bring recyclable, reusable cups targeted at venues to market in the months ahead
“Both reusable and single-use face masks break down into plastic microfibres, which are easily consumed by marine life and enter the food chain,” explains Richard Vevers, founder of The Ocean Agency. “The pandemic’s impact on plastic pollution is a major human health concern and is now under investigation by scientists.”
Nor is it sustainable to simply stop doing the things that make us happy, continues Ahmadzadeh: “If you look at the sustainable development goals from the UN, it doesn’t just cover plastic cups and carbon emissions – you’ve got cultural sustainability, social sustainability, people looking after each other, the harmony between races and sexes… everything.”
While plastic cups, then, aren’t the be-all and end-all of sustainability, it’s on cups that Ecodisco (which spun out of an earlier eco-friendly party promotion business established by Ahmadzadeh) is currently focusing much of its attention, with plans in the works to bring recyclable, reusable cups targeted at venues to market in the months ahead.
“The whole idea of our system,” explains Ahmadzadeh, “is a reusable cup rental service. So, if you’re a venue, we would deliver reusable cups on Friday morning, for example, and you’d use them Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday day, if you’ve got an event.
Then on Monday we’d collect them, take them away to get washed and simultaneously drop off more clean ones for the week ahead. Every week we’d have two or maybe three collections and deliveries, depending on how many cups the venue can store. The goal is to use each cup around 500 times before recycling them.”
“Don’t just cover up what you’re doing, don’t just offset; reduce the impact as much as possible and then be regenerative”
The Ecodisco system would be funded by a £1 (€1.15) ‘green fee’ for each attendee, with the choice left up to venues as to whether to absorb the cost into the ticket price or levy it on top.
“Whether you integrate it into your ticket price or you make a thing out of it to get people on board with the system – which is what we’d recommend – is ultimately irrelevant,” he adds. “The whole point is, it’s funded by event attendees. We want to remove the cost to the venue.”
“Sustainability just isn’t enough anymore – we actually need to be regenerative,” says Philippa Attwood, who leads corporate partnerships for Barcelona-based Tree-Nation, which helps corporate clients offset their carbon dioxide emissions by planting trees.
“If we just sustain ourselves the way that we are now, that’s actually not good enough. That’s why, in our conversations with clients, we say, don’t just cover up what you’re doing, don’t just offset; reduce the impact as much as possible and then look at how you can be regenerative [ie have a positive effect on the environment].”
So far over 85% of people have said they would be happy to pay the £1 green fee for the [Ecodisco] cup
Like most businesses, Tree-Nation’s plans for 2020 were derailed by the pandemic – it had partnerships with around ten new festivals and live events lined up for the summer and was in conversations with some of the biggest names in live music about offsetting their emissions – though it continues to work successfully with several events, as well as a large pool of e-commerce partners, and its API is integrated with Eventbrite.
Attwood explains: “It could be that you design the event to trigger a tree to be planted every time a ticket is purchased, for example.”
Like Ecodisco’s cups, the decision on whether to include the cost of planting a tree – typically between one and two euros – in the ticket price or make it a separate charge, is left up to event organisers and ticketing platforms.
In the green
Whatever the mechanism that promoters and venues use to fund new green policies, research increasingly shows that fans are willing to pay a little extra if they know they are attending a sustainable/regenerative show.
“You do get some people who turn around and say, ‘I don’t want to put the extra cost onto my customers,’” explains Ahmadzadeh. “In those cases we turn around and say, ‘Okay, cool, let’s ask your customers!’ Working with industry bodies like Music Venue Trust we have started to send out newsletters with survey links, and so far over 85% of people have said they would be happy to pay the £1 green fee for the cup. So, we can show that to someone who says this isn’t what people want, because we’ve got people saying they’re fine with it!”
“Looking into the future, it will probably be more damaging for you if you’re not involved in something like [Tree-Nation]”
It’s a similar story in the festival world. According to Ticketmaster’s State of Play 2019 report, which surveyed 4,000 UK festivalgoers following the most recent summer festival season, a growing number of attendees take sustainability into account when buying festival tickets, with almost two-thirds saying the reduction of waste is a priority.
“Looking into the future, it will probably be more damaging for you if you’re not involved in something like [Tree-Nation],” adds Attwood. “If you’re still using throwaway plastics, diesel generators, etc, and all of that is visible, it’s going to make your event less appealing than a rival event that has reusable everything, deals with trash in the right way and has good environmental policies.
“So, what I would say to people is to think about the long-term, think about who your target market is and decide whether you want to be part of that positive change.”
The economic argument will be key to bringing everyone, particularly those for whom the environment hasn’t been a priority to date, on board with this green new world, suggests Chalabi. “Some people say things like, ‘Sustainability is all well and good, but who’s going to pay for it?’” he explains, “when in actual fact, if we run it right, it will probably cost us less than it did before.”
Chalabi cites the example of a recent conversation with a lighting designer, who told him it’s “difficult to spec certain [eco-friendly] lights, because a festival only has so much money in the budget and the lighting company can only afford to rent these fixtures.
“All these little things will become like second nature. And that’s what we’re trying to educate people about”
We turned it around and concluded, ‘If you’re using fixtures that cost more money but are using less power, then you’re saving money on the power bill.’ It’s really about stepping back and seeing the bigger picture. Yes, it’s going to cost you a little bit more on the lights, but you’re going to save 95% on your bill.”
As time goes on, he continues, “all these little things will become like second nature. And that’s what we’re trying to educate people about. It’s amazing, for instance, how many vendors we’ve gone to asking if there’s a sustainable option on a certain product, and there is – but nobody’s ever asked for it. A lot of production managers have been doing the same thing for years and years, so they’re going to keep on doing it the same way unless they know there are other choices.”
On the artist side, meanwhile, the world’s biggest tour promoter, Live Nation, is seeking to educate its clients about the options available with its new Green Nation Touring Program [sic], which it hopes will help musicians and their teams develop sustainable tours after live music returns.
The Program [sic], part of the Green Nation initiative launched in 2019, will advise Live Nation-promoted artists on how to adopt eco-friendly touring practices that “prioritise people and planet,” according to the company – including in tour planning, production and sourcing.
“Live Nation has the opportunity and the responsibility to provide artists and fans with live music experiences that protect our planet,” said Michael Rapino, LN’s president and CEO, on Earth Day. “We’re inspired by artists who are continually pushing for greener options, and as we develop those best practices the Green Nation Touring Program will help make them standards in the industry, so collectively we can all make the biggest impact possible.”
“Climate change won’t recognise borders – we’re all in this together”
Regardless of the efforts of individual companies, trade associations such as A Greener Festival and the TPG will be crucial to securing any pan-industry consensus on environmental standards, and Chalabi says it’s been “a joy bringing people together” on the TPG’s bi-weekly calls.
“We have the heads of sustainability for AEG and Live Nation on a call, and it’s so refreshing because it’s a recognition that climate change won’t recognise borders – we’re all in this together.”
The spirit of collaboration is behind AGF’s decision to run a second edition of its Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) in 2021, following the most recent event ahead of ILMC on 2 March. This one-off, late-summer GEI will build on the momentum of March’s GEI 13 “towards not just rebuilding but becoming a regenerative force for our sector and all of the people it reaches,” explains AGF co-founder Claire O’Neill.
“We intend to set an example that we, the creative and can- do organisations and individuals, are leading the way, and the future that we want to co-create is fully within our grasp,” says O’Neill. “There’s no time to waste, and so we’re keeping our foot firmly on the (zero-emissions) pedal to make sure our industry steps up to be a positive force to create a future we can all be proud of.”
In the US, the Touring Professionals Alliance is “on the same page” as the TPG, according to Chalabi, while in Scandinavia, the Norwegian Live Music Association recently teamed up with other industry bodies to launch Norway’s first ‘green roadmap’ (grønt veikart) as a resource for live entertainment professionals who wish to reduce the environmental impact of their work.
“Sustainable tours needn’t mean smaller tours, just cleverer ones”
Speaking at the launch of the veikart, the association’s general manager, Tone Østerdal, explained: “Most people do not associate the cultural sector with climate and sustainability, but we have a great responsibility. The purpose of preparing this green roadmap is both to become better yourself, and to inspire others to contribute to solving the climate challenge.”
According to Attwood, it’s a misconception that concert touring will need to be scaled back to minimise its environmental impact – sustainable tours needn’t mean smaller tours, just cleverer ones, she says. “A lot of industries are looking at their supply chain and asking how they can do things better, whether it’s using electric cars instead of those that run on gasoline or sourcing products locally instead of shipping something in from China,” explains Attwood, suggesting a similar model can easily be applied to live entertainment.
For those aspects whose impact can’t be reduced further, that’s where offsetting comes in, she continues: “For example, you have 100 tonnes of CO2 you can’t get rid of, but you can plant 1,000 trees, and you can make a commitment to cleaning up the ocean, so indirectly you are compensating for what you’re doing. And it’s possible to give back more than you’re actually taking, so you’re being regenerative: You could generate two tonnes of trash at your festival but fully recycle it, then pick two tonnes of trash out of the ocean, and you’re doing more.”
While under no illusions about its urgency, noting that “we have ten years to get this right,” Chalabi is upbeat about the live business’s ability to meet the climate challenge that lies ahead.
“I think compared to all the industries out there, we touch on so many different economies – whether it’s from the travel sector to the freight sector, to power to audio to lights, you name it – we touch absolutely everything. And the fact that we also reach out to so many people because of the medium that we’re involved in, our artists and the people that we produce, we have a huge voice.
“That voice can change the way the globe feels, and I think we underestimate that power. Which is why we need to make sure our backstage is clean.”
Read this feature in its original format in the digital edition of IQ 99:
AGF to accredit uni courses on sustainability in events
A Greener Festival (AGF) will now be able to accredit university courses which focus on sustainability in the event and festival industries after gaining official recognition from the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa).
The first courses to achieve AGF’s accreditation are Falmouth University’s BA (Hons) sustainable festival management, BA(Hons) sustainable tourism management and BA(Hons) creative events management.
Accreditation by AGF means that students will gain theory and knowledge of current practice required by environmental practitioners in the event industry, both in the UK and internationally.
“AGF has had education at the core of its mission to help events and festivals reduce their environmental impact”
Teresa Moore, AGF director and lead on education and research says: “Since its inception in 2006, AGF has had education at the core of its mission to help events and festivals understand and reduce their environmental impact.
“Over the years AGF has worked closely with a number of universities to help create and deliver course content and at the same time has developed its own, acclaimed environmental assessor training courses for industry professionals.
“Having come from the higher education sector, I understand how invaluable it is to students to know that their degree course is recognised by industry bodies working in their chosen field.”
Adrian Bossey, acting director of the school of entrepreneurship at Falmouth University said: “We are really excited that our innovative degrees are the first in the world to be accredited by AGF and look forward to further developing this pioneering partnership.”
Green Guardians: Transport and travel
The Green Guardians Guide, spearheaded by the Green Events and Innovations Conference and IQ Magazine, is a new yearly initiative highlighting some of the work being done around the world to reduce the carbon footprint of the live entertainment business.
The inaugural list, which originally ran in IQ 90, features 60 entries across ten categories, selected by the Green Guardians committee, which includes representatives from some of the sector’s most respected bodies, such as A Greener Festival, Go Group, Green Music Initiative, Julie’s Bicycle and Vision:2025.
Following on from last week’s feature on the companies providing decor & set design, this edition of Green Guardians looks at how to reduce our collective carbon footprint with savvy methods of travel.
Transport & travel
Canadian electro-group Qualité Motel have always been sensitive to environmental issues, but the main change to the band’s habits came in 2018, when the ACT movement started in Montreal, offering touring artists a deeper understanding of their environmental impact, and providing tools and a list of actions that can be done differently.
The band emphasises that every small gesture counts: they bring reusable water bottles and coffee thermoses to avoid trashing plastic bottles and single-use coffee cups; they bring their own lunch; and their eco artist rider requests local food, local alcohol, “access to water” instead of bottled water, zero-waste catering, etc.
“We also encourage them to extend as much as they can those principles to the rest of the event,” says band member François-Simon Déziel. In 2019, Qualité Motel launched a new festival called La Virée du Saint-Laurent where they organised three beach parties along the Saint-Laurent River, and embarked on a seven-day tour using a sailing boat in an effort to achieve zero-waste events, zero-emission transport and 100% local proposition for food and alcohol.
The band emphasises that every small gesture counts: they bring reusable water bottles and coffee thermoses
As human beings, we leave an unavoidable carbon footprint, simply by existing on Planet Earth. By now, we’ve learned that the choices we make, especially with regards to travel, can affect the size of that footprint, and many of us already make an effort to reduce our emissions where possible.
Chooose makes it easy to act on climate change by making solutions for global CO2 reduction available to everyone. With a monthly subscription, it is possible to directly support some of the most impactful CO2-reducing projects around the world.
These projects are carefully handpicked by the Chooose international carbon advisory team, and verified by acknowledged institutions such as Veritas, DNV GL, and the United Nations.
The average CO2 footprint for a world citizen is 4.8 metric tons per year, but emissions vary depending on the country e.g. the average person in Nepal emits 0.3 tons per year, compared to the average Canadian’s 15.2 tons.
Based on numbers provided by The World Bank, Chooose therefore offers subscriptions based on country.
Chooose makes it easy to act on climate change by making solutions for global CO2 reduction available to everyone
During the 2006/07 season, when Yourope (the association of European festivals), launched its Green & Clean guidelines for greener festivals, Rock Werchter was among the first to get on board.
In association with Belgian public transport companies, SNCB and De Lijn, Rock Werchter offers a free train e-ticket for anyone who buys a ticket to the festival, and/or free return travel by train or bus.
Festival-goers can take the train to Leuven or Aarschot stations, from where De Lijn takes them by shuttle bus to the Werchter site on either hybrid buses or buses with diesel filters.
NMBS also provide night trains to ensure people get home after each day of Rock Werchter, and after the promoter’s one-day festivals.
The festival also encourages fans, crew and volunteers to cycle to Werchter and runs a park & bike scheme whereby fans can use car-parks near the festival for free, before using their own bikes to complete the final leg of the trip.
Rock Werchter offers a free train e-ticket for anyone who buys a ticket to the festival, and/or free return travel by train or bus
Big Green Coach
Big Green Coach claims to be the largest events travel company in the UK, through its work with more festivals and gigs than any of its industry rivals.
It is the official and exclusive coach partner to major festivals such as Boardmasters, Creamfields, Download, Isle of Wight Festival, Latitude, Leeds, Parklife, Reading, Wireless and many more. Further afield it transports fans to the likes of Outlook, Hideout, Tomorrowland, Rock Werchter and Pukkelpop.
Since its creation in 2009, Big Green Coach has been working hard to make a positive impact on the environment. More recently, for every customer who books travel with Big Green Coach, the company commits to sponsoring and protecting 5 square feet of Amazonian rainforest for ten years.
This has resulted in more than 1.2million square feet of rainforest in Peru being protected by Big Green Coach for the next ten years. The company’s target is to protect an area covering 3m square feet during the next five years.
The company commits to sponsoring and protecting 5 square feet of Amazonian rainforest for ten years per customer
Sustainability goes hand in hand with Pieter Smit’s efficiency-driven factors, and as a result, all its trucks are Euro 6 and equipped with state-of-the-art technology, meeting all the latest EU standards.
This is the most environmentally friendly technology available for (long-distance) trucking. In addition, all Pieter Smit vehicles are equipped to run on biodiesel.
Company policy dictates that vehicles must drive as few unnecessary kilometres as possible, which often means leaving trucks and trailers at venues for a few days, while the driver travels home on public transport.
Among its various sustainability credentials, Pieter Smit’s new and renovated buildings use geothermal heating systems (earth warmth) together with improved insulation materials and triple-glazed windows.
At company HQ, 600 solar panels, with a 153 KWP capacity have been installed, and the buildings have been fitted with LED lighting to reduce energy consumption, meaning the company delivers electricity back to the grid.
All of its trucks are equipped with the most environmentally friendly technology available for (long-distance) trucking
Literally translated as ‘bicycle cloakroom,’ FahrradGarderobe (FG) promotes quality-conscious, environmentally friendly and socially responsible event tourism throughout Germany and beyond.
Bicycle cloakrooms (or ‘bike racks’), are becoming commonplace at festivals and sporting events, thanks to FG, who provide guarded, insured, and fully accessible, mobile parking spaces for attendees’ bikes.
The use of bicycles delivers a significant CO2 reduction for events, with the bonus that FG staff and volunteers can directly record the diverse positive and negative visitor impressions at each event and pass that feedback to the organisers.
Bike parking also cuts down on possible congestion around escape routes, while space-saving on a large scale.
FG also encourages event visitors to check out the local area outside of the event itself, and supports regional eco-cycling initiatives.
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GEI Summer Series: Boom Festival shares secret to 20-year success
For the latest instalment of the GEI Summer Series, organised by A Greener Festival (AGF) and the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), Claire O’Neill talks to Artur Mendes on what would have been the 20th-anniversary edition of Boom Festival.
The Biennial Transformational festival takes place in Portugal and welcomes over 40,000 people from around the world each year, but was forced to reschedule this year’s event due to coronavirus.
Instead, Mendes discusses the triumphs and trials of running Boom Festival for two decades with O’Neill, including the challenges associated with winning AGF’s Outstanding Greener Festival Award six times.
“Due to the pandemic, we risk going backwards in terms of the whole plastic disposable culture”
Other topics discussed include sustainability challenges that have arisen due to the pandemic, the redistribution of budget for sustainability, and the festival’s work with NGOs and communities.
Speaking of the sustainability challenges that have been presented by the pandemic, Mendes says: “We risk going backwards in terms of the whole plastic disposable culture… the governments and many promoters don’t want to risk the safety and the health of the people. I’m already seeing disposable cups are back in Portugal. We are also concerned about the impact of hygiene chemicals on water biology and health. We don’t know how prepared the infrastructure of festivals and events are for this.”
The series launched on World Environment Day (June 5) with Preventing Plastic Pollution Post Pandemic, a virtual panel featuring speakers from the environmental and live events sectors.
European festivals unite to create greener future
A collective of festivals and non-governmental organisations have launched Green Europe Experience (GEX), an initiative working to create a more eco-friendly future for music and arts festivals.
Portugal’s Boom Festival, Dour Festival in Belgium, Pohoda Festival in Slovakia and French event We Love Green have teamed up with sustainability groups A Greener Festival (AGF) in the UK and Germany’s Go Group in Germany as the co-initiators of GEX.
“In the middle of these demanding times, we feel an even stronger urge to use this special moment in history to take a deep breath and work towards healing our connection with this planet,” reads a statement from GEX initiators. “We understand that the big challenges ahead can only be addressed in a co-creation process.”
Using the two main focal points of scenography – festival decor, artwork, installations, design and signage – and food, GEX will work on developing ways to allow festivals to become fully circular through a process of implementation and review.
“We understand that the big challenges ahead can only be addressed in a co-creation process”
The project will take place over a period of three years, with the first year dedicated to minimising the ecological impact of scenography and the second focusing on food.
All findings will be shared with the teams of the festivals involved, local suppliers and stakeholders. A manual will be drawn up and distributed for the use of the wider festival and events industry.
“The GEX project brings together some of the most visionary organisations in this space to act as a catalyst to collectively accelerate the positive changes we need to make,” comments AGF co-founder and director Claire O’Neill.
“We look forward to exploring, learning and sharing ways for creative expression and precious social interaction that puts people and the planet at the forefront.”
GEX is co-funded by the European Union’s Creative Europe Programme.
GEI announces full agenda for 2020
The twelfth edition of A Greener Festival’s (AGF) Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) will look at topics including the sustainability of festivals, eco-friendly touring and social inequalities within the industry.
Representatives from Live Nation, AEG Europe, Extinction Rebellion, Glastonbury Festival and the O2 Arena are speaking at the one-day event, which is taking place alongside the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) on Tuesday 3 March, the opening day of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).
Punk legend John Robb of the Membranes is giving the keynote interview with Sebastian Sandys of Extinction Rebellion, before hosting the It’s a Human Story panel to discuss the live industry’s potential for social impact.
The Focus on Festivals panel, presented in collaboration with the International Green Deal, will look at the next steps that festivals need to take to achieve full circularity, with speakers from Lowlands, Cambridge Folk Festival, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) and Big Green Coach.
A year on from the launch of the Green Artist Rider, IQ Magazine’s Gordon Masson will host A Greener Tour – Round 2, supported by Forum Karlin and Metronome, to explore what is being done to improve the sustainability of touring, with panellists including CAA’s Emma Banks, Live Nation Europe’s head of sustainability Patricia Yagüe and Tanner Watt from Reverb.
“Next [we need] to exchange knowledge and collaborate to allow fundamental changes so the live industry can be a strong positive force”
GEI will share breakout sessions with IPM, looking at the latest development in electricity usage at events, and updates in sustainable trucking in a panel presented by Rick Smith of Rule Out Loud Management and Maarten Arkenbout from the Pieter Smit Group.
The second International AGF Awards will round off the event, celebrating the achievements of the greenest festivals from around the world in a ceremony hosted by AGF co-founders Claire O’Neill and Ben Challis.
“We’re excited for GEI12, because we go way beyond raising awareness to having the full attention of top decision makers, artists, and experts to strategically and systematically reduce the industry’s negative impacts upon the environment,” comments O’Neill.
“Admitting to having a problem is the first step. Next is to exchange knowledge and collaborate to allow fundamental changes so the live industry can be a strong positive force. Due to the steep curve in action this year there has never been so much experience to share and to learn from in the greener event space – so this is going to be a busy and fast-paced agenda, but of course with a lot of fun and inspiration!”
GEI12 is taking place at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London, supported by Stack-Cup.
AGF champions eco-friendly events in South America
Live industry sustainability specialist A Greener Festival (AGF) recently teamed up with members of the Latin America music business to discuss how to reduce waste at live events.
Along with South American electronic music promoter Buenas Noches Producciones (BNP), eco-friendly organisation Bye Bye Plastic, which is run by DJ Blond:ish, and local environmental movement Voluntad Verde, AGF led an open, public discussion on how the electronic music industry can help tackle climate change and reduce waste generation – particularly plastics.
The session, which took place on 21 November in the Argentinian city of Córdoba, opened with a statement from BNP detailing the commitment of the electronic music scene to help fight climate change, via its ‘Dance and Recycle’ and ‘Respect’ campaigns. BNP also underwent a complete AGF-conducted Sustainability Assessment.
The free-to-attend event was directed towards attendees of BNP events, as the promoter looks to increase sustainability in the future.
“We are committed to leading the change in our local scene and strongly believe that consistency and continuity will get us there”
“We have been working hard to bring respect to the core of all elements of our events for years, including respect for our environment, our health, our peers, for everything,” comments Ivan Aballay, CEO and founder of Buenas Noches Producciones.
“We are committed to leading the change in our local scene and strongly believe that consistency and continuity will get us there. This powerful initiative, which brought together artists, staff and the local community, is just beginning. We have a lot more hard work ahead.”
A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill adds that: “So often the discussion around sustainability is about limitation and lack. What we love about this inspiring collaboration is that it amplifies and enhances our combined energy to make a positive difference beyond the dancefloor.
“If the whole music industry took actions such as these surrounding gigs, the environmental benefits would be phenomenal.”