Why it is costly to make music festivals greener

Hannah LoveHannah Love

Hannah Love is a lifelong pageant goer.

She counts her first pageant because the Sidmouth Folk Festival, when her mum was eight months pregnant together with her. Now a child sleep and parenting skilled, Ms Love tells me she has attended festivals each one in every of her 46 years.

“My children and I would choose a festival over a holiday,” says the mom of three. She says when she’s bringing her youngsters alongside, she appears for festivals that entertain the entire household.

“For example, I love Wilderness as there’s woodland crafts, swimming, good headline acts, plus there’s playing fields for the kids who can go off and explore. We feel safe.”

While the acts and actions are the principle attraction, she says the values of a pageant are vital as properly.

“I think the kind of festivals I go to place a big emphasis on sustainability and attract people like us who do think about the environment. Going to a festival has a much lower carbon footprint than travelling abroad.”

It’s one thing the entire pageant trade is considering. It takes lots of electrical energy to run a pageant, and they’re typically in distant areas the place there isn’t any connection to the nationwide grid.

Many festivals depend on mills that run on fossil fuels, which pump out carbon dioxide, the principle reason for local weather change.

The UK pageant neighborhood alone makes use of in extra of 12 million litres of diesel yearly, in accordance with analysis by A Greener Future, a sustainability consultancy, and trade suppose tank Powerful Thinking.

Transport is one other massive supply of emissions, and contains folks attending to the occasion, and items being ferried to and from the location.

A wind turbine at Glastonbury 2023 installed by Octopus Energy

Octopus Energy

Festivals are making an effort to enhance their environmental affect.

For instance, final yr’s Glastonbury Festival hosted a 20-metre wind turbine to produce chosen market stalls.

Installed by Ocotpus Energy, the turbine, together with photo voltaic panels and a battery, equipped a small grid with sufficient electrical energy to run 300 fridges a day.

More festivals are investing in greener power choices, together with solar energy and battery storage.

One of the driving forces on the subject of inexperienced festivals is Chris Johnson, co-founder of the Shambala pageant within the UK, which has adopted a spread of eco measures over its length.

It solely serves up vegan and vegetarian meals, and has switched from diesel mills to sourcing energy by means of sustainably-sourced hydrogenated vegetable oil, photo voltaic and hybrid models, and introducing power tariffs for merchants to encourage higher accountability for power consumption.

Mr Johnson says there’s been a “complete culture shift” at Shambala.

He provides: “What we’ve realised… is that we need to reduce demand, so a large part of what we’re doing is working with everybody across the festival who uses power, for example food traders, and trying to reduce demand and power.”

Mysteryland music festival in the Netherlands


Mysteryland is a three-day digital music pageant within the Netherlands attracting 130,000 party-goers annually.

Its head of operations Maarten van’t Veld says they’ve taken numerous steps to turn into much less reliant on fossil fuels.

Now 80% of its energy is generated by photo voltaic panels on a close-by farm. The pageant and its companions additionally dug electrical energy cables into the bottom to attach the pageant to the nationwide grid.

“It [connecting to the grid] was a big investment, but in 10 years, we will get back the investment, and then we have no extra costs,” says Mr van’t Veld.

He says connecting as much as the grid generally is a massive problem.

“There is scarcity of power capacity in many areas in Holland, meaning that some companies cannot get a new grid connection or an expansion of their existing connection.

“We began this undertaking in 2017 and ordered this new connection a while in the past. If we might begin this undertaking now, it might in all probability not be attainable.”

Presentational grey line

Presentational grey line

Over at Shambala, Mr Johnson says that investing in sustainability is worthwhile.

“Audiences are more and more anticipating their festivals to take motion. The main driver of ticket gross sales remains to be the place your mates go, and likewise the line-up. But audiences predict their festivals to be sustainable, so I feel there’s more and more a enterprise case for being a extra sustainable enterprise.”

Reducing fossil fuels was one of the key points made in the European Green roadmap, a sustainability checkpoint list for the festival and events industry created by A Greener Future, and the European Festival Association (Yourope), which was revealed at the Amsterdam Dance Conference late last year.

With many festivals reliant on diesel generators, the report states that “power technology from non-renewable, fossil gas sources isn’t sustainable and should be phased out”.

Dave Grohl on a GWR train


Claire O’Neill, co-founder and chief executive of A Greener Future, and co-author of the European Green roadmap, says all industries have to change, including the festival sector.

“The Green Deal within the EU is setting the goal for 55% emissions discount by 2030. The pageant sector would not have any such roadmap, and lots of the actions we have been working with festivals on for practically 20 years on sustainability might be fairly advert hoc. Nothing actually essentially adjustments over time.”

She says that establishing grid connections is important but concedes that it is expensive.

With transport making up the bulk of emissions, Ms O’Neill says it’s crucial festival organisers work with transport providers to ensure that people travel in the greenest way possible to and from the site.

Sometimes performers themselves can set the instance – Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters took the prepare to Glastonbury final yr.

While there is limited regulation of music festivals’ greenhouse gas emissions, most of the progress in the industry is the result of voluntary action from festival organisers, points out Sophie Tuson, environment and climate change practice lead at international law firm RPC.

However, she warns that any festival organisers planning to promote the sustainability of their events should review their green claims carefully.

“Regulatory scrutiny of inexperienced advertising and marketing claims is at an all-time excessive, and the UK’s client regulators are taking proactive steps to deal with greenwashing by means of elevated enforcement motion.”