Ridge’s advice to other events considering climate neutrality is to avoid building up the production levels to beyond what audiences really want, making up for it afterwards by buying more offsets. “Walk the talk by having the best staging and sound, but keep high energy consumption lighting and effects down to a minimum, and work with innovations to curb the rest; such as LED lighting. Your music festival is an opportunity to demonstrate the change in audience expectations and preferences: bring simple quality and content to life and you will have an outstanding success.”
On the offsets themselves, Greenfest chose an initiative run by the Queensland state government called Ecofund, which aims to regenerate habitats bordering national parks, expanding wilderness areas and creating biodiversity corridors. For Colman Ridge, this link with broader environmental objectives is what Greenfest’s audiences want to see from the offsets they are helping to support.
“Winning the race against climate change will be a hollow victory if we arrive without rich biodiversity and real wilderness on Earth. Let’s not lose sight of conservation priorities for biodiversity in pursuit of carbon neutrality—let’s leverage the race against climate change to fund conservation. This approach will be respected and preferred by your customers, and you can point to specific and meaningful outcomes from your care for a carbon neutral Earth,” says Ridge.
Several other festival events have joined the Climate Neutral Network, among them the Hove Festival, which since 2007 has been staging an annual five-day music event in natural surroundings on an island off Arendal, Norway. With environmental re- sponsibility a key theme of the festival, a number of initiatives to cut down on the footprint of the event have been introduced, including a make-up table using 21 LED lightbulbs which together use the equivalent energy of one conventional 60- watt bulb. The power for the lighting comes from a battery charged by a solar cell and wind turbine. Festival goers could even charge their mobile phones by cycling!
The Hove Festival’s Karen Landmark also warns against being too ambitious in trying to measure all emissions connected with the event. “The biggest challenge is where you draw the line,” says Landmark. “In a way it is close to impossible for a festival to measure all emissions, in particular when it comes to the audiences. In 2008 we tried to measure how the audience travelled to and from the festival, but it proved to be difficult to be accurate. In 2009, we claim only to be climate neutral in terms of the event itself, the organization and the artists.”
But like the others, Hove festival sees communication as an important part of the impact of such events. “It is a unique opportunity to reach out to people with important messages. We also believe in the artists as role models, and we work hard on getting the artists to engage in our environmental work, and to engage with the audience on these issues.”
Photo: Courtesy Google.com