How can the live events industry innovate and maintain the momentum of environmental progress? Abi Moores, Project Manager at ecolibrium, discusses how event organisers can square the extra emissions from their innovative socially-distanced events with their sustainable ambitions.
ecolibrium is the charity that supports events, suppliers, music companies and artists to tackle their travel emissions through measurement, reductions and support for climate solutions programmes such as renewable energy generation and tree planting, protection and regeneration. Find out more www.ecolibrium.earth.
Covid-19 has brought the event industry to its knees, and many companies are adapting as best they can to bring events in some form back to the UK’s summer season. From protective suits and in-bound temperature checks to create ‘safe events’, to new digital platforms and drive-ins; event organisers are looking at how they can maintain government social distancing rules whilst offering a live event experience. But in doing so, has there been a set-back in progress on environmental practices?
There are so many inspiring examples of thinking outside the box in response to Covid-19: Budapest’s MAV symphony orchestra put themselves in the car and drove to the people, rather than vice versa, mounting loudspeakers on their car and broadcasting performances as they drove through the city. Fans can even request a drive-by of their home via a Facebook message to the orchestra! (source IQ magazine).
Drive-ins are a growing favourite for the events industry, and not just for outdoor cinemas, there’s talk of enjoying live gigs and restaurant meals all from the safe, and socially distant, comfort of your own car. Countries in Europe have already begun their drive-in ‘journeys,’ with singer Mads Langer playing to 2,000 people in 500 cars at a ‘corona-proof’ gig in Denmark; and club night BigCityBeats World Club Dome holding #WCDdriveins in Germany and Las Vegas. Here in the UK, Tom Kerridge’s successful Pub In The Park event series has launched its own Drive & Dine Theatre with eight dates starting early July and tickets flying out the door.
The live events industry is proving it is as resourceful and innovative as ever; but at a time when emissions from car travel to events has been in decline over several years, marking a success in tackling the biggest source of emissions in the events sector (audience travel), how does an event organiser square these extra emissions with their sustainable ambitions?
Turning unavoidable drive-in emissions into climate solutions
If your event has become a drive-in, or your crew are now travelling in five separate vehicles instead of one, then the best thing you can do is calculate and balance these new travel-carbon emissions – and that’s where ecolibrium can help. As a charity we’ve been supporting the live events industry to tackle the environmental impacts of its travel emissions since 2015; working with over 80 festival, event, supplier and artist members to balance over 13 million average car miles – with carbon-balancing donations going to projects that create renewable energy.
Drive in event organisers can follow in the tracks of festivals like Boomtown and Reading, where car park passes have a £1 carbon balancing donation added to ensure that the emissions generated by the thousands of cars attending are balanced with the generation of clean energy through ecolibrium.
Alongside these carbon-balancing donations our members run campaigns to inspire more festival-goers to find sustainable travel alternatives such as car-sharing, coach or rail travel. Whilst we can’t get thousands of event goers on coaches during this time of Covid-19 and economic downturn, at least we can invest in the green economy that we so desperately need to tackle the ‘other’ planetary crisis.
If innovation has laid your sustainable travel plan to dust, we’re here to work with you. We provide free resources to calculate audience, crew and production travel impacts and through us you can invest in proven climate solutions programmes to balance unavoidable emissions.
Looking forward to 2021 festival season, it is uncertain what level of social distancing will be required if any, or how audience attitudes toward shared transport might change. Shared transport is key to reducing travel impacts in the industry and society at large, and travel companies are giving careful consideration to what measures could be introduced to enable sustainable travel solutions, such as coach travel to festivals, to resume.
ecolibrium will be staying in touch with travel-related developments and updating the industry when there is news on the topic. In the meantime, read our latest Sustainable Travel Guide for Events for some ideas about how to tackle the biggest source of emissions.
Get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about adding a small carbon balancing donation to your drive-in ticket prices to support ecolibrium’s climate solutions programmes.
 Source: Vision: 2025, The Show Must Go On report, 2020
This guest blog was first published in our July 2020 newsletter – Sign up to they newsletter using the form below for more blogs, case studies and monthly event sustainability news.