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O2 removes 500+ tonnes of carbon during The 1975 gigs

The O2 in London has announced that more than 545.9 tonnes of carbon were extracted across The 1975’s four headline concerts in February.

The shows marked the world’s first carbon-removed arena events and took place in collaboration with carbon removal experts CUR8 and sustainable event specialists A Greener Future (AGF).

Using a portfolio of “scientifically verifiable” carbon removal methods (including enhanced rock weathering and biochar), The O2 (owned by AEG Europe) and CUR8 physically extracted the 136.46 tonnes of carbon generated by each event from the atmosphere and durably store it out of harm’s way.

The pilot events have resulted in a blueprint for a more sustainable live event model utilising carbon removals, which is being offered to all incoming promoters at the venue and is being planned to launch across several other AEG venues.

“With the success of this world-first pilot series of arena events, we’ve proven that it’s possible to run an arena-size live show which doesn’t compromise on a great fan experience but still accounts for the impact it has on the environment,” says Sam Booth, director of sustainability at AEG Europe.

“We hope this serves as a wakeup call to the wider industry that carbon removals are a viable solution that can be used to operate live events but they need buy-in from everyone in the live ecosystem in order to be a success – from venues and promoters right the way through to artists themselves. We’re fully committed to continuing to innovate and find even more ways to make our world-class events across AEG Europe more sustainable, as we strive for a low-carbon future for the live industry.”

Mark Stevenson, co-founder and chief impact officer at CUR8, adds: “The real heroes here are the teams at AEG Europe and AGF, who are working to reduce emissions as much as possible and then committing to remove the rest – and in doing so, helping fund the carbon removals operating system that the planet (and every organisation on it) will need to reach net-zero. Importantly, The O2 and AGF have demonstrated the art of the possible. We cannot have a live music industry where the only route to net-zero is to not exist. By using carbon removals to mitigate the complex ‘audience travel’ or ‘scope 3 emissions’ problem, all within the existing business model of live events, these concerts demonstrate a possible future – one that speaks to life well lived on a planet well loved.”

“We hope this serves as a wakeup call to the wider industry that carbon removals are a viable solution for live events”

The O2 has revealed that 75.7% of emissions from the concerts came from fan travel, which was covered by a combination of venue investment and a 90p contribution from fans, incorporated into the original ticket price.

Just 3.95% of the nightly carbon footprint came from arena operations, driven predominantly by electricity usage and staff travel. The low emission figure is thanks to The O2’s significant investment in energy efficiency, with the recent installation of LED lighting and screens across the arena saving over 300,000kwh of energy in 2023 alone.

The O2’s hospitality partner, Levy UK + Ireland, accounted for the removal costs across their operations, with carbon emissions for food and beverages across each show coming in at 7.46%, of which 85% was down to beverages. The overall figure was aided by the introduction of several recent initiatives, including a new food menu which generated 30% less carbon compared to the regular offering, as well as the launch of Notpla serveware. This 100% biodegradable product has a 70% lower carbon footprint than standard serveware and can be processed in The O2’s on-site biodigester and wormery.

In addition, The O2 has invested in a permanent reusable cup scheme and cup-washing machines powered by electricity from renewable resources, further reducing waste and emissions at the venue.

Alongside hosting the pilot events, The O2 and CUR8 each donated an additional 1% on top of the cost for each tonne of carbon removed to EarthPercent, a climate foundation geared towards identifying and funding impactful climate solutions in the live entertainment industry.

The O2’s other green initiatives include launching its own Green Rider in 2023 – a document intended as a blueprint to make incoming tours and productions at the venue more sustainable.

The 20,000-capacity venue was also the first arena in England to receive Greener Arena accreditation, awarded by AGF. Work is now underway at AEG Europe’s Uber Arena and Barclays Arena in Germany to undergo similar accreditation.

 


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AGF hails improvement in festival sustainability

AGF (A Greener Future) has hailed ‘significant areas of improvement’ in festival sustainability after surveying more than 40 European events.

The sustainability non-profit today released its Festival Sustainability Report, comprising data analysis on mobility, food & drink, water & sanitation, power & fuel use, waste & recycling, and carbon emissions at events on the continent.

Per the report, significant areas of improvement include an increase in bans on single-use plastic serveware (from 54% in 2022 to 75% in 2023), a reduction in average waste per person per day (from 0.75 kg to 0.5 kg), and more festivals going fully vegan or vegetarian.

The results further highlighted the significant impact of travel and transport, with an increase in reported plane travel. However, the share of domestic artists increased from 61% in 2022 to 68% in 2023 and the average share of attendees using public transport to attend rural festivals increased from 16% to 19%.

After audience transport, food and drink were often found to be the second largest source of emissions and festivals that moved to a fully meat-free event reduced their food-related emissions by over 60% on average.

“We’re on a path to net zero but the path just got steeper, so we need to keep upping our game”

The report also found that an increasing number (38%) of festivals are switching to renewable fuels such as HVO, though AGF points out that these fuels still generate emissions and air pollution. “Reducing overall fuel use and improving the availability and affordability of hybrid, battery, and grid systems remains a key opportunity to decarbonise the sector,” it says. Meanwhile, 15% of festivals used grid electricity for over 90% of their power needs.

Waste per person per day at festivals has been reduced from 0.75kg to 0.5 kg on average, while onsite recycling separation rates increased from 38% (2022) to 46% (2023).

The vast majority (75%) of festivals still use some portable chemical toilets onsite, with just 12% using compost toilets for over 3/4 of their sanitation demand.

The collection of accurate data on build, decor, staging and merchandise materials purchased remains a challenge, according to AGF, as well as engaging with sponsors and hospitality areas to provide the necessary information and to assess their impact. AGF says it is working closely with clients and the sector to bridge these gaps.

“2024 is the 18th year that AGF is assessing festival impacts worldwide,” says Claire O’Neill, CEO, AGF.

“It’s good to see improved understanding, data, and performance from events. We are seeing progress, but more still needs to be done to now additionally adapt to changing and more extreme weather. There is a huge opportunity for collaboration with other sectors such as transport, energy, water and food who all have targets for net zero and protecting ecosystems. New ways of doing things need dynamic and attractive platforms to reach people, which is what festivals are. While progress is good, the background is changing, adversely – we’re on a path to net zero but the path just got steeper, so we need to keep upping our game.”

The full Festival Sustainability Report can be downloaded here.

 


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AIE, Julie’s Bicycle, AGF partner on new toolkit

Attitude is Everything, Julie’s Bicycle and A Greener Future (AGF) will publish a new toolkit that empowers the UK events industry to implement practical solutions that tackle both climate change and accessibility.

The launch of the toolkit comes after a 2023 survey by Julie’s Bicycle found that sustainability is a consideration for over two-thirds of disabled respondents but that one-third feel that environmental solutions are not easy to navigate and do not meet their access requirements.

The toolkit reveals key barriers that disabled people experience within sustainability initiatives and outlines practical ways in which venues, events and festivals can address both these missions holistically.

The resource also includes three case studies with UK festivals Green Man, Forwards Festival and Shambala, which highlight where the issues have arisen, the solutions that each festival has developed and the areas where further work is needed.

Throughout 2024, AIE, Julie’s Bicycle and AGF are asking for venue managers, festival organisers, and promoters to test out the toolkit and give feedback that will result in an updated version in early 2025.

The first iteration of the toolkit will be launched today at the Green Events and Innovation Conference in London with a presentation by Julie’s Bicycle and AGF.

“Just like there’s no music on a dead planet, there’s no access either”

That will be followed by a panel discussion chaired by climate justice activist, student and speaker Dominique Palmer, with Attitude is Everything Patron Blaine Harrison of the Mystery Jets, Arts Council England’s Senior Manager for Environmental Responsibility Feimatta Conteh and Forwards Festival’s Accessibility Manager Harry Jones.

“I’m really looking forward to taking part in the panel discussion at GEI,” says Blaine Harrison, Mystery Jets, Attitude is Everything Patron, and joint Attitude is Everything and FAC Artist Ambassador.

“As a touring artist with my band Mystery Jets, I have witnessed huge changes in the live music industry over the past 20 years – both good and bad. Climate Justice is perhaps the most important conversation of our time and from a grassroots level to the mainstream, I feel that solutions around the environmental impact of our industry need to feel inclusive to all.”

Suzanne Bull MBE, founder of Attitude is Everything, adds: “Just like there’s no music on a dead planet, there’s no access either. Public demand is growing for businesses to take their environmental and access responsibilities seriously, and that public includes disabled people. More than one billion disabled people worldwide are more impacted by climate change than non-disabled people due to the additional access requirements and health concerns many of them have when disasters strike countries and our cities become clogged with polluted air. My hope is that this collaboration and the toolkit will be the catalyst for change.”

Teresa Moore, director at A Greener Future, comments: “Today’s festivals need to be viewed as an ecosystem of sustainable practices where every aspect of the event supports its sustainability goals recognising that accessibility is part of that ecosystem.”

Farah Ahmed, climate justice lead, Julie’s Bicycle, says: “We’re really proud to launch this toolkit with Attitude is Everything and A Greener Future. As the urgency of the climate crisis accelerates, we have to ensure that our responses are accessible, just, and inclusive. Live events and festivals have a responsibility to ensure that disabled people are included in shaping bold new ideas for climate action that leave no one behind.”

See the key messages from the toolkit below:

 


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AGF reveals greenest festivals of 2023

BST Hyde Park, Sziget and Primavera Sound are among the latest recipients of A Greener Future’s (AGF) certification for sustainability in 2023.

AGF Certification is the world’s first and most comprehensive standard for sustainability in the live events sector, for festivals and events reducing waste, emissions and enhancing equality and biodiversity.

We Love Green (FR), Boom (PT), Boomtown Fair (UK), Dockyard (NL), Northside (DK), OyaFestivalen (NO) and Tremor Festival (PT) also received the certification for 2023. See the full list here.

To be certified, events complete a detailed assessment based upon the AGF Framework, including self-assessment, site visits and post-event evidence and data to the AGF assessors for an independent auditors report. The AGF Framework includes 11 key themes including local ecosystems and community, travel, food and drinks, energy, waste, EDI and governance.

“The best events in the world can also be the most sustainable”

Jim King, CEO of European Festivals, AEG Presents said: “We’re committed to our green targets at all AEG Presents European Festivals. The best events in the world can also be the most sustainable. To again achieve the Greener Festival Certification at both BST Hyde Park and All Points East is a testament to the hard work of the festival teams to realising this ambition.”

Ceremonies will take place at the Green Events & Innovations (GEI16) conference, in partnership with the ILMC, on 27 February in London. GEI will host the International AGF Awards where certified events across a range of green categories will be crowned.

AGF CEO Claire O’Neill said: “The AGF Framework for sustainable events has become extremely comprehensive over the last 15 years. Hats off to all festivals and events that are achieving this certification, which is no small feat.

“We not only need to prevent further pollution, waste, emissions and biodiversity loss, but we now also need to adapt to the changes already happening around us, as a result of climate change. These festivals and events are ahead of the curve and give many people hope, showing how we can all do things differently whilst having a tonne of fun at the same time.”

 


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Futures Forum 2024: First speakers confirmed

Futures Forum, the leading conference for the next generation of live music industry leaders, has revealed the first raft of speakers and moderators for 2024.

The fourth annual instalment of the gathering will again take place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on 1 March 2024 – the final day of its renowned parent event, the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

The first confirmed speakers include Wasserman Musics Alex Hardee and Holly Rowland, who will appear together on the Agents vs Bookers panel, which aims to lift the lid on the inner workings of agency partnerships.

Chairing that panel is The O2s Marc Saunders, who will conduct in-depth discussions and quickfire question rounds to test the pairs’ knowledge of each other and their rosters.

Gurj Summan will be one of four panellists to swap tracks, tips and tales of the artists that are dominating their playlists

Elsewhere, former New Boss Connie Shao (AEG Presents) will moderate Meet The New Bosses: Class of 2024, featuring a quartet of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

While Claire O’Neill (A Greener Future) will take the helm for A Greener Future: The Case Studies. She’ll welcome a panel of sustainability pioneers from festivals, venues and tours, who will share their tried-and-tested practices and innovative solutions.

And finally, Gurj Summan (Live Nation, Festival Republic) will be one of four panellists to swap tracks, tips and tales of the artists that are dominating their playlists, during Now That’s What I Call 2024.

For more information on Futures Forum 2024 or to purchase passes, please click here.

 


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O2 to host world’s first carbon-removal gigs with The 1975

The O2 will be hosting the world’s first carbon-removed arena events at The 1975’s headline shows in February 2024.

A “portfolio of carbon removal methods” will be used to physically extract over 100 tonnes of residual carbon generated by each event, thereby neutralising the carbon impact of the concerts, according to a press release from the London venue.

These pilot events, on 12 and 13 February, will take place in collaboration with carbon removal experts CUR8 and sustainable event specialists A Greener Future (AGF) which awarded the O2 with the first-ever Greener Arena certification.

With AGF’s expertise, the AEG Europe-owned venue says it can now predict the emissions of an event in advance of it taking place, based on expected outputs for categories including catering, travel/transport and electricity.

AEG Europe, alongside The O2 arena’s hospitality partner Levy UK + Ireland, have accounted for the removal costs in their operations, while emissions for audience travel are estimated based on travel surveys and covered by a 90p investment which has been incorporated into the event ticket price.

If the pilots are successful, AEG Europe will create a best practice-model for venues, promoters and tours worldwide on how to execute a carbon-removed event.

The company also hopes it will be a “game-changing step” on the path to helping the global live events industry reach genuine net-zero.

“The world desperately needs to decarbonise, and we’ve been hugely impressed with the work that The O2 has been doing”

“We’re incredibly proud to be hosting the world’s first carbon-removed events here at The O2,” says Sam Booth, director of sustainability at AEG Europe. “The perfect large-scale carbon-free event does not currently exist, but while the industry continues to innovate and improve to reduce emissions to their lowest possible level, carbon removals will remain an important piece of the puzzle.

“As a world-leading venue, we have a responsibility to create a path for real change, and it’s our hope that this event will not only deliver the same best-in-class experience that fans expect at The O2, but also one that’s supporting vital climate work and is better for the planet. Thank you to The 1975, CUR8, A Greener Future and all of our partners who have collaborated with us on this – it’s going to be game-changing not just for us but the industry as a whole, and is a fantastic way to kick off an exciting 2024 at The O2.”

Mark Stevenson, co-founder and chief impact officer at CUR8, adds: “The world desperately needs to decarbonise, and we’ve been hugely impressed with the work that The O2 has been doing with A Greener Future to continually drive down their emissions. What’s great about these shows is that we can demonstrate that it is now possible fold the cost of removing the residual CO2 into the existing business model, such that fans won’t notice any difference in the gig experience.

“As The O2 continues to drive down emissions going forward, the investment per gig for carbon removals will only get smaller. It’s a complete win-win-win – for artists and their fans who care about the climate crisis, for venues and the live events supply chain, who can now realise a route to a scientifically and legally compliant net-zero position, while helping CUR8 to invest in building the carbon removals operating system for the planet.”

Continuing a path towards net zero, The O2 is also developing a Green Rider for tours and productions which will contain recommendations for how to make more sustainable choices and reduce the overall environmental impact of live events, due to be released later this year.

The O2’s other green initiatives include the procurement of green electricity, the implementation of digital ticketing, major reductions in single-use plastic within the arena, a back-of-house recycling programme, a state-of-the-art waste compound, a green cleaning program, onsite wormery and an eco-digester.

 


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AGF report reveals festivals’ carbon impact

A new report released by sustainability not-for-profit A Greener Future (formerly A Greener Festival) has offered a fresh insight into festival carbon footprints.

The Festival Carbon Footprint study, which is based on data from 17 festivals around Europe, reveals that audience travel is the largest source of emissions, contributing to 41% of the carbon footprint on average when a more complete account of scope 3 emissions is included.

When including wider travel such as production, traders and artists, travel and transport represents closer to 58%, with food and drink responsible for an average of 34%.

The study notes that while audience travel is commonly stated as 80% or more of a festival’s carbon footprint, most studies omit the impacts of food & drink, materials purchased, or trader travel. In some cases, production and artist travel are also missing from the picture.

Moreover, when accounting for more complete emissions sources the breakdown is more nuanced – with many emissions generated as a result of production and planning decisions – rather than through audience travel choices alone.

“We love festivals, their contribution to culture, and their potential to show alternative ways of living”

“We love festivals, their contribution to culture, and their potential to show alternative ways of living,” says AGF CEO Claire O’Neill. “It’s important to have a fuller picture to understand their carbon footprints. Focus for event sustainability is often on waste, cups, and audience travel. Whilst clearly important, this is a narrow view missing broader impacts. This can delay important decisions at the planning and design stage, such as moving away from animal and other high impact food and drinks.”

Authors note that broad carbon footprint averages should be treated with caution, as the disparity between the variety of festivals is significant. For instance, audience travel emissions ranged from around 20% to 75% of a festival’s footprint, depending on scale, location and nature of the event.

As more events collect this type of information, it will become more accurate and will help identify further improvements.

The report also highlights that carbon footprints do not provide insight into other impacts such as light or noise pollution, direct habitat disturbance, or pollution on site, which require biodiversity and environmental impact assessments. It also shows potential for time spent at a festival to create fewer emissions than time spent at home.

The analysis is based on festivals and events that are already taking significant sustainable actions.

For the next phase of the study, AGF invites interested industry groups, festivals and sustainability organisations to collaborate with shared information, for a clearer picture for the festival and events sector as a whole.

The full report can be downloaded from A Greener Future’s website here.

 


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Yourope launches European Green Festival Roadmap

Yourope, the European festival association, has unveiled the European Green Festival Roadmap 2030, a comprehensive guide designed to assist European festivals and events in adopting sustainable practices.

Developed as part of the “Future-Fit Festivals” (3F) project, the roadmap aligns with the EU Green Deal’s emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030.

It also incorporates the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and industry requirements. The roadmap is the result of collaboration between Yourope, A Greener Future (AGF), Greener Events Norway, and the GO Group (Green Operations Europe) think tank.

The European Green Festival Roadmap 2030 provides a comprehensive framework comprising seven areas of action, offering practical recommendations ranging from management structures to specific sustainability measures in event creation and production processes. It is publicly available and accessible free of charge to any European festival or cultural event.

The association says that this joint pan-European publication represents a significant milestone for the festival sector, providing a valuable tool for organisers not only within the European Union but also internationally.

During its preview at the Green Events & Innovation Conference (GEI) in London and the 9th international GO Group workshop in Barcelona, the roadmap received overwhelming interest and feedback from industry professionals. The development process, which commenced in early 2022, involved kick-off workshops and public discussion panels with representatives from the European Commission and Parliament.

“The roadmap helps prioritise and simplify the actions individual festivals need to take”

Holger Jan Schmidt, general secretary of Yourope and GO Group co-founder, says, “Improving our festivals and increasing sustainability throughout the industry is an ongoing topic for Yourope and also for me personally. That’s why it’s a particular pleasure to present the European Green Festival Roadmap as the icing on the cake of tools we recently published – all are open source, accessible to everyone and transferable to other cultural areas. We believe that the roadmap is a big step in the only right direction. Also, it serves as an excellent basis for further exciting and helpful projects.”

Claire O’Neill, CEO of A Greener Future, shared her perspective on the roadmap, saying, “After nearly two decades working with festivals worldwide for sustainability, we’re really happy to harness and share learnings in this European Green Festival Roadmap with Yourope. The roadmap helps prioritise and simplify the actions individual festivals need to take, and shines a light on areas for collective effort by the industry and beyond.”

Linnéa Svensson, co-founder of Greener Events Norway and the GO Group, emphasised the urgency of taking action, stating, “Climate change is already upon us. Heavy rain and severe drought are becoming increasingly normal, which tells us there’s no time to lose. It is time to act now – and this roadmap will guide you to get started or even to get more advanced. If you haven’t already, just start by starting!”

The European Green Festival Roadmap 2030 can be accessed through the following link: https://yourope.org/home/green-roadmap

Yourope, established in 1998, is the premier association for popular music festivals in Europe, representing approximately 120 festivals and associated organisations from 28 European countries. The association aims to strengthen and enhance the European festival scene while promoting arts, music, and cultural connections.

Yourope’s working groups focus on various festival-related topics, including sustainability, climate action, environmental protection, event safety, marketing and communication, and human resources and wellbeing. The association also hosts the biannual European Festival Conference (EFC) and organises the annual European Festival Awards (EFA).

 


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