Electronic band Massive Attack and the Tyndall Centre produced a roadmap for touring with the least possible carbon footprint. They are advocating for clean battery technology for festivals, integration of events with public transport, vegan food and the production of their own renewable energy. The group will make an effort to implement the recommendations at next year’s tour.
The Roadmap to Super Low Carbon Live Music provides the live music sector with opportunities to innovate and lead the field in combating the climate emergency, Massive Attack said upon the release of the report, based on research that was launched in 2019. The global electronic act commissioned it from the Manchester University branch of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
The authors designed an emission reduction frame for the band’s 2022 tour. Massive Attack said they are also working with green energy investor Dale Vince and his company Ecotricity on establishing partnerships with music arenas and venues.
Live music must contribute its share of carbon reduction
“Only material and fundamental shift in practices and technology globally can prevent catastrophic climate change. How live music stakeholders and the industry as a whole embrace climate action is a part of this global response,” the report reads.
The initiative is promoting the idea to incentivize audience travel via rail and other forms of public transport, but also cycling and walking. The roadmap suggests artists and staff must cut air travel, especially private jets, and switch fossil fuel vehicles for electric versions. One of the possibilities is to test the use of individual chartered trains.
Private jets and transportation of truckloads of equipment are some of the biggest sources of carbon emissions at tours and concerts
One of the biggest sources of emissions in the industry is equipment freight. The authors said the actors in the sector need to examine options for electric and rail transportation.
Moreover, if venue operators have their own equipment, it reduces the need to haul truckloads of gear from one show to the next. There are bands that actually tour with multiple sets of equipment including more than one stage, as it can’t all be mounted, packed, and transported in one day.
Venues, equipment manufacturers, government required to join efforts
All in all, it comes down to detailed planning and choosing the path with the smallest carbon footprint. Cutting emissions in the live music sector requires innovation and joint efforts by various stakeholders: artists, managers, venues, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, local and state authorities, and transportation businesses.
For instance, equipment would need to be standardized so that performers don’t need to ship their sets everywhere they go, the document adds.
Massive Attack said it would search for the best practices on its tour in order to continue developing the concept. Staff will need to be trained for sustainable operations.
Role of heating, cooling, food
Catering for events and festivals has its own set of challenges. The report raises the issues of refrigeration, single-use plastics, and waste generation. The electronic band said vegan food needs to be available at shows.
The use of diesel- and gas-fueled generators for food services and heating is a concern as well, as many events are held in places that are away from the power grid. The experiment involves examining how venues can turn to renewable sources and even produce green energy themselves.