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Live concerts and tours can contribute to the climate crisis
Live concerts and tours can contribute to the climate crisis, driving up emissions through fan and artist travel, energy consumption and the mass production of merchandise.
The United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) global Act Now – Speak Up campaign showcases the steps that individuals can take to engage in environmental advocacy. Its goal is to spur the systemic change that experts say is needed to reduce emissions – from the live music industry and beyond – and limit global warming. The campaign suggests that music fans can encourage artists, concerts and festivals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
One step concertgoers could take is asking artists to stop flying on private jets and instead use low-emissions transport. Festivals and venues could be asked to switch to renewable energy and use energy-efficient facilities.
Fans can also demand organizers only partner with companies that have signed up to the Race to Zero, the United Nations-backed global campaign rallying organizations to take “rigorous and immediate action to halve global emissions by 2030.”
Artists themselves can play a key role in progressing environmental advocacy. Since 2019, UNEP has partnered with non-profit REVERB, which works with musicians, organizers, venues and fans to green the live music industry. Since its founding in 2004, REVERB has helped to eliminate over 288,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Its roster of performers include Billie Eilish, Lorde, Johnson, and Goodwill Ambassadors the Dave Matthews Band.
“While the music industry doesn’t have the biggest footprint of all the industries in the world, it may have the biggest reach of any industry in the world,” says Tanner Watt, REVERB’s director of partnership and development. “If fans will change the way they dress or the way they cut their hair because their favourite artist does, maybe fans will adopt simple solutions [to environmental crises].”
Inspired by outspoken artists, as well as REVERB volunteers who help educate concertgoers, fans have an opportunity to spur real political change and take systemic action outside of the concert venue, say experts.
REVERB and some environmentally friendly artists can push individuals towards voting in favour of political candidates who are committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement and embracing net-zero emissions. Writing to political leaders demanding that they increase funding for climate change adaptation, organizing meetings and political debates, and joining a political party are a few other steps people can take.
“If we don’t take real steps to do something – and we don’t do it (immediately) – we’re going to get to the point where the changes that we are forced to make take away so many of these things that we love in our lives, the live music experience being one of them,” said Watt.
Ultimately, businesses and governments need to make large-scale changes to manage the climate crisis. But individuals can play an important role in pushing for climate-friendly policies, say experts.
“Advocacy is a powerful tool for progressive change,” says Barbara Hendrie, the Director of UNEP’s North America Office. “UNEP is delighted to be working in partnership with REVERB and the Act Now – Speak Up campaign. Their efforts are making a real difference in addressing the climate crisis, raising awareness, motivating individual and group action, and providing leadership by example which others in the industry and the wider world can follow.”