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Climate scientists call for festival licensing to be dependent on carbon impact

The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research is calling for a major shake-up of the green credentials of UK festivals

By Nick Reilly

Shot of festival crowd
(Photo: Moses/Wikimedia Commons)

A leading group of climate scientists has called for festival licensing in future to be further dependent on the event’s green credentials.

New research from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research (TCCCR) says that while sustainability initiatives have been launched by the live music sector, meaningful commitments are failing to be made on Scope 3 emissions – which means carbon emissions that come about as a result of a product or activity.

In this case, the TCCCR says that 65 – 80% of greenhouse gas emissions are generated as a result of audience travel to live events. According to the organisation, reducing car parking by just 20% could lower festival travel emissions, excluding flights, by some 10%.

The research has been commissioned by the ACT 1.5 project, an independent unit that came about as a result of the Tyndall Centre teaming up with the band Massive Attack to plot a roadmap for the decarbonisation of live music in 2021.

They are now calling for the implementation of a “gold standard” set of model licensing conditions to be used by city and local authorities when approving festival licenses or renewals. This includes an incremental, year-on-year minimum of greenhouse gas reductions, as part of wider international aims to cut all emissions by 50% by the year 2030.

Other aims include the development of the UK’s first ever entirely renewable energy/grid-powered multi-use festival site, as well as a five-year projection of the availability of renewable energy powered battery options (to replace diesel generators) at all festival sites.

Now, Eurovision host Liverpool City Council has become the first authority to commit to the gold standard conditions as policy for the city.

ACT 1.5 producer Mark Donne said: “It’s brilliant to see a globally iconic music city like Liverpool blaze the trail for climate action, by agreeing to use the ACT 1.5 Model Conditions as its licensing touchstone. This latest Tyndall research demonstrates that major music festivals are still not doing nearly enough on Scope 3 emissions. Just as in all areas of life, we must learn how to do things differently now if we have a hope in hell of keeping global warming at anything like safe levels. Urgent action has to include activities that are most popular, and that we as a society enjoy the most.”