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GEI 14: Brian Eno preaches climate ‘opportunity’

A keynote interview with Brian Eno and Aurora was one of the highlights of the 14th Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), the leading gathering for sustainability at live events.

The duo sat down with host Love Ssega to discuss ‘Directing the energy of music for the benefit of the planet’ to close this year’s GEI at the Royal Garden Hotel, London last Friday (29 April).

A renowned musician, producer, visual artist and activist, Eno praised Coldplay’s efforts to cut their carbon footprint on their current groundbreaking eco-friendly stadium tour.

“The biggest carbon footprint of touring is generally getting the audience to the shows,” said Eno. “It isn’t getting the band and the equipment to the shows, it’s the audiences. If you’ve got 100,000 people coming to a show and they’re travelling an average of say 30 or 40 miles, that’s a huge huge number of vehicles.

“So Coldplay, for example, are now trying to set up systems where they set up a coach service. And in fact, it sounds a lot more fun to me to be in a coach with 30 or 40 other people going to the same show.”

“I’ve now started thinking in terms of the climate opportunity, rather than the climate emergency”

Eno recently founded Earth Percent, a charity providing a simple way for the music industry to support impactful organisations addressing the climate emergency, and spoke of his desire to tell a “second story” on the issue.

“We all know the first story: we’re on course for disaster,” he said. “The apocalypse is just around the corner and so on. But I’ve now started thinking in terms of the climate opportunity, rather than the climate emergency, because if you think about all the things we would have to do to save the planet… we have to change the way we do all sorts of things. And then when you think about that, you think that would be a much better world anyway.

“It’s not just about trying to save what we have. It’s about trying to make something new with this huge prompt that says, ‘We’ve got to change.’ And if we succeed, we’ll end up in a better place in a better place than we ever imagined.

“The invitation is not just to fight back like the resistance, against this huge force that is coming at us, but to sidestep it and say, ‘We’ll just build a new future.’ And I think this is happening already.”

“As things start to disappear from culture, people suddenly realise that they’re valuable”

Eno pinpointed the expression, “The best is the enemy of the good,” for its growing pertinence to the matter at hand.

“What I see happening a lot is people saying, ‘Well, I can’t do this thing that would be the ideal, so I won’t do anything.’ That is really not an option,” he said. “There is going to be a continuous, endless set of choices and negotiations where we try to prevent another 0.1% temperature rise. And we will do that because we will soon start to realise what happens if we don’t.

“One of the things that always happens as things start to disappear from culture, is that people suddenly realise that they’re valuable… So I’m hoping that because of the good side of mass media, we might actually be a little bit further ahead of the game this time.

“A heroic figure in this is David Attenborough – nobody has been more effective in making people fall in love with the planet than he has, and I think that’s what it takes for people to realise that this is the place to direct their love. I’m an atheist, but if I were going to pray to anything, it would be this place.”

“We have forgotten how to coexist and make room for everything else but ourselves, which is very sad”

Norwegian pop breakthrough Aurora said: “Apathy is the enemy of progress” and shared the relevance of her single The Woman I Am and LP The Gods We Can Touch, released in January.

“This whole album and song… is very in tune with what we’re here to talk about today: how humankind has changed through times and how the way we perceive each other and the earth, and the way we handle it… and how our touch and connection with nature that used to be so obvious in the past, has become less and less prominent within us,” she said.

“I was just wondering why this had happened, why we’d forgot to live organically as a coexisting thing, because we have forgotten how to coexist and make room for everything else but ourselves, which is very sad. I’m constantly moving in between, ‘Every small change matters,’ but also that, sometimes, small change isn’t enough when you know there’s so much we can do.”

The connection between wellbeing, inclusivity, diversity, equity and environmental sustainability was a recurring theme throughout GEI, which was presented by A Greener Festival (AGF) in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Representatives from AEG, ASM Global, EarthPercent, Forest Green Rovers, Glastonbury, Music Declares Emergency, OVO Arena Wembley, Roskilde Festival, Royal Albert Hall, SEC, Soul Sutras, We Love Green, UWE and Yourope also appeared at the first green events industry physical get-together in over two years.

 


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Nile Rodgers, Brian Eno and more back climate charities

A number of world-renowned artists have lent their support to the industry’s leading climate change charities.

To mark last week’s Earth Day (22 April), more than 100 artists including Nile Rodgers, Coldplay and Metronomy released exclusive tracks on Bandcamp, with proceeds going to Brian Eno’s climate change charity, EarthPercent.

Both Eno and Rodgers are due to appear at this week’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC), with the former participating in a keynote conversation at the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI) and the latter to be interviewed by former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell.

Eno says EarthPercent’s Earth Day campaign on Bandcamp “brings artists together to offer exclusive tracks to their fans, to be sold on behalf of climate justice and environmental protection organisations. This is what unleashing the power of music in service of the planet looks like”.

The proceeds from each track will go towards EarthPercent’s five core areas of work: greening music, energy transition, climate justice, legal and policy change, and protecting nature.

“This is what unleashing the power of music in service of the planet looks like”

Alongside EarthPercent, Eno has also supported the launch of Music Declares Emergency‘s new US chapter, along with Billie Eilish, Bon Iver and Arcade Fire.

Music Declares Emergency (MDE), a group dedicated to guiding the music industry’s response to the global climate and ecological emergency, is also backed by The 1975, Major Lazer, The Pretenders, Annie Lennox, Tom Morello and Tom Odell.

Initially started in the UK in 2019, MDE is now also operational in France, Germany, Switzerland, Chile and Canada. It’s gathered over 6,000 signatures from across the music industry on a declaration that calls for an immediate governmental response to do more to combat climate change.

A statement said: “Now, more than ever is the time for the United States to loudly and proactively join the rally to curb and reverse greenhouse gas emissions.

“The climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our time, and the power of music should take its place at the forefront of this important movement to create a safer, fairer, more sustainable world. The climate crisis is about science, not politics. There is #NOMUSICONADEADPLANET.”

 


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GEI announces keynote with Brian Eno and Aurora

Brian Eno and Aurora have been confirmed for a keynote conversation at the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), the leading gathering for sustainability at live events.

Presented by A Greener Festival (AGF) in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), the 14th edition of GEI will take place at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London on Friday 29 April.

Having recently founded Earth Percent, a charity providing a simple way for the music industry to support impactful organisations addressing the climate emergency, Eno joins the conference to discuss ‘directing the energy of music for the benefit of the planet’ with Aurora.

Eno is a renowned musician, producer, visual artist and activist who first came to international prominence in the early seventies as a founding member of British band, Roxy Music, followed by a series of solo albums and collaborations. Aurora is said to be one of the greatest Norwegian pop breakthroughs of recent years.

This year’s event marks the first time ILMC delegates will be able to attend GEI sessions as part of the main conference, with key topics including:

The connection between wellbeing, inclusivity, diversity, equity and environmental sustainability will be a recurring theme throughout the programme.

Speakers for the conference include Andy Lenthall (Festival Insights), Chiara Badiali (Julie’s Bicycle), Claire O’Neill (AGF), Dale Vince OBE (Ecotricity/Forest Green Rovers), Danny Newby (Big Green Coach), Dave Ojay (Naam Festival) Dr Vincent Walsh (Herblabism/Future of Food), Erik Distler (AEG), Gina Périer (Lapee), Glenn Lyons (UWE), Gordon Masson (IQ Magazine), Holger Jan Schmidt (YOUROPE) and John Drury (OVO Arena Wembley).

Single day tickets to GEI are available.

More information and tickets can be found here. GEI 14 is kindly supported by Ecotricity, De La Maison and Ball Corporation.

 


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Brian Eno to keynote Sónar 2016 conference

Sónar+D, Sónar festival’s tech- and digital culture-focused conference programme, will this year feature over 50 speakers, 100 exhibiting companies and 4,500 delegates from across the world.

Brian Eno, described by Sónar as “one of the most important thinkers of our time, at the intersection between technology, art, science and culture”, will give the keynote lecture, and Jean-Michel Jarre, Richie Hawtin, Kode 9, Lawrence Lek, Alva Noto and Bytone will all speak on the visual influences behind their live shows.

Spotify, the BBC, Google Data Arts and Microsoft’s Kate Crawford will discuss the changing face of the music business in the digital era, while representatives from Cern and the ALMA observatory will tackle how scientific research institutions can serve as an “engine for innovation” for musicians and artists. Also speaking will be Minecraft director of operations Bu Vui and British art collective and Massive Attack collaborator United Visual Artists.

View the full Sónar+D programme at the conference’s website.

Performing at the Sónar music festival are Jean-Michel Jarre, New Order, Anohni, Skepta, John Grant, James Blake, Roots Manuva, Flume and Stormzy.