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Massive Attack tackle touring’s carbon footprint

Bristol band Massive Attack are the latest UK act to tackle the live industry’s environmental impact, teaming up with researchers to map the carbon footprint of typical tour cycles.

In an article published in the Guardian, Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja (3D) announced that the band are commissioning Manchester University’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to look at “three key areas” where Co2 is emitted in the music industry: band travel and production; audience transport; and venues.

The resulting “roadmap to decarbonisation” will be shared with other touring acts, promoters, festival organisers and venue owners to encourage and facilitate a reduction in carbon emissions across the industry.

“Every industry has varying degrees of carbon impact to address and we need partnerships like this one to look at reducing carbon emissions across the board,” comments Dr Chris Jones, a research fellow at Tyndall.

“It’s more effective to have a sustained process of emissions reductions across the sector than for individual artists to quit live performances. It will likely mean a major shift in how things are done now, involving not just the band but the rest of the business and the audience.”

“It’s more effective to have a sustained process of emissions reductions across the sector than for individual artists to quit live performances”

Last week, Coldplay announced their decision to put a pause on touring, due to environmental concerns. The 1975 and Billie Eilish are among other high-profile artists to work to reduce the carbon footprint of upcoming tours.

While Del Naja notes that stopping touring altogether is “an important option that deserves consideration”, an unrealistic number of high number acts would have to do so in order to “achieve the required impact”.

Carbon offsetting initiatives, such as planting tress, banning single-use plastic and encouraging the use of public transport, says Del Naja, are also unlikely to deliver any meaningful impact.

“Given the current polarised social atmosphere, uplifting and unifying cultural events are arguably more important now than ever, and no one would want to see them postponed or even cancelled,” says Del Naja.

“The challenge therefore is to avoid more pledges, promises and greenwashing headlines and instead embrace seismic change.”

To help reduce the environmental impact of artists’ riders, Coda Agency and A Greener Festival (AGF) launched the Green Artist Rider at the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) in March. Tickets for GEI 2020 are available here.


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Dubai to host zero-carbon rock concert

Rock the World – Save the World, the “first-ever 100% environmentally sustainable rock concert”, is taking place at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on 15 November with a capacity of 6,000.

The concert is the brainchild of biofuel company Neutral Fuels, and is produced in partnership with non-profit environmental organisation One Tree Planted and eco-clothing manufacturer DGrade.

Organisers aim to achieve net zero carbon emissions, showing that it is possible to “enjoy mind-blowing rock without contributing to climate change.”

“Ordinarily, a rock concert with its massive sound, complex lighting and special effects, emits tons of carbon into the atmosphere using energy from the national grid,” says Neutral Fuels founder and chief executive Karl Feilder.

“Rock the World – Save the Planet is different. It will achieve net zero carbon emissions by using Neutral Fuels B100 net zero biofuel to power the entire event.”

“Ordinarily, a rock concert with its massive sound, complex lighting and special effects, emits tons of carbon into the atmosphere using energy from the national grid”

A recent report revealed the use of diesel generators to power live music events in the UK alone produces over one million tons of CO2 equivalent a year.

By partnering with One Tree Planted, the Neutral Fuels team hopes to neutralise “all unavoidable carbon expended on behalf of the event”, such as flights for bands, by planting trees to absorb emissions. Fans are encouraged to use public transport to travel to the event.

DGrade will collect all plastic used at the event to convert into sustainable yarn for producing clothes and accessories.

The event will feature performances from Filipino rock band Urbandub, pop rock bands Cueshé and Razorback and Dubai rock cover band Sandstorm, featuring Neutral Fuels’ Feilder.

Tickets are priced from AED125 (US$28) and are available to buy here.

 


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Study: environmental cost of music higher than ever

A new study has revealed that the price consumers are willing to pay for listening to music has never been lower, whereas the environmental cost of music consumption is higher than ever before.

Dr Matt Brennan of the University of Glasgow led the research into the changing economic cost of recorded music and Dr Kyle Devine from the University of Oslo spearheaded research of the environmental cost of recording methods.

The study showed that the advent of music streaming platforms has led to a spike in carbon emissions, proving more harmful for the environment than before digitisation, despite cutting out the plastic pollution caused by CDs and vinyl.

“The good news is that overall plastic production in the recording industry has diminished since the heyday of vinyl,” says Devine. “However, the transition towards streaming recorded music from internet-connected devices has resulted in significantly higher carbon emissions than at any previous point in the history of music.”

The research analysed plastic usage within the recording industry at peak years for vinyl, cassette and CD sales in the United States. Vinyl produced 58 million kilograms (kg) of plastic waste in 1977, cassettes produced 56m kg and CDs 61m kg.

The amount of plastics used by the same recording industry had dropped to 8m kg by 2016, due to the advent of streaming.

“The transition towards streaming recorded music from internet-connected devices has resulted in significantly higher carbon emissions”

“These figures seem to confirm the widespread notion that music digitalised is music dematerialised. The figures may even suggest that the rises of downloading and streaming are making music more environmentally friendly,” says Devine.

“But a very different picture emerges when we think about the energy used to power online music listening. Storing and processing music online uses a tremendous amount of resources and energy – which has a high impact on the environment,” adds Devine.

The research translates the production of plastics and the electricity generated by storing and transmitting audio files into greenhouse gas equivalents (GHGs), in order to directly compare the overall environmental impact.

By 2016, music consumption generated GHGs of between 200m kg and 350m kg in the US alone, as compared to vinyl (140m kg), cassettes (136m kg) and CDs (157m kg).

“The point of this research is not to tell consumers that they should not listen to music, but to gain an appreciation of the changing costs involved in our music consumption behaviour,” says Brennan.

“We hope the findings might encourage change toward more sustainable consumption choices and services that remunerate music creators while mitigating environmental impact.”

 


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