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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:

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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