Festi-full of COP outs
16th November 2021
‘There Is No Plan(et) B’
In the midst of the COP26 conference, it is crucial that the events industry does some self-evaluation. We must take a good look at how we can make meaningful change in the fight against the climate crisis and why it is important managers and organisers get their act together.
As the events industry grows in significance, so too does its responsibility. Making events green should not be done as an added selling point and to benefit the image of the event, it should be paramount in all parts of the planning, development, and delivery stages.
The event industry’s negative impact on emissions has to become a priority for change. Sustainable events must progress from the buzzword status.
The UK events industry is a huge contributor to carbon emissions. The largest culprits being; travel, food catering, and event machinery with diesel use within events currently contributing a shocking 1.2 billion kilograms of CO2 every single year, approximately more emissions than international flights and equal to the entire country of Malta.
COP26 provides two key aims for those within the industry:
- Measuring carbon emissions and putting in place the target objective of carbon-neutral events.
- Ensuring events are seriously considered as a viable tool in achieving sustainability goals and not branded a hindrance.
Due to heightened climate change efforts, the boundaries in 2021 will be pushed. Shining examples of the greenest events globally include the Green Festival in the United States, achieving the use of recycled material within all forms of marketing, incentivising green modes of transport, and screening suppliers for their standards of sustainability.
With successful sustainable event prototypes already setting a standard across the globe, do those not already equalling such efforts highlight an underlying sense of ignorance within the industry?
It is however encouraging that the next generation of event professionals will be moulded with deeper ecological awareness, in which event sustainability will become the standard mindset, not the USP.
Food for thought
Catering and events go hand in hand. Food is often a big part of an event and provides a great opportunity to make a big difference.
When it comes to catering at events and its negative environmental impacts, many articles discuss food waste but close to none talk about the idea of changing the type of food provided.
Yes, the fact that events waste between 15%-20% of the food they produce is bad but surely the fact agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction makes menu choice an important area to focus on?
Livestock and their by-products account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide every single year! So instead of just looking at cutting emissions by using power and transport alternatives, we need to look at meat and dairy ones too.
Events should not shy away from adopting a more vegetarian/vegan menu. It is a golden opportunity for people to have a taster (literally) of a plant-based lifestyle and be educated on its benefits to the planet without compromising on flavour.
The Shambala festival is a meat and fish-free festival and a perfect example for other events to learn from. They managed to successfully showcase and promote amazing vegetarian food and inspire both employees and attendees. Will other events step up to the plate?
It becomes imperative that we, as event professionals, take responsibility for innovating the sustainable future of events. Collectively, climate change responsibilities lie within the hands of each and every one of us.
Here are sustainable recommendations to help you out!
Carbon off-set – As standard practice, event organisers should measure their carbon footprint and plan to reach carbon-neutral/off-set status across events in order to aid in achieving the COP26 1.5 degree objective.
Sustainability measures – Actions speak louder than words and commitment to the cause must be shown, with the EU introducing a ban on single-use plastics by the end of 2021, such examples as; plastic-free, biodegradable products, lowering meat consumption and travel cuts such as shuttle services have to be integrated across the board.
Innovative Technology – Check your tech, is it sustainable? As COVID-19 continues to re-define the industry, 2021 is the year for hybrid technology events with the event industry thriving throughout the trend. However, consider your tech’s true value amongst a sustainable planet.
Spread the word – Rejoice in your achievements! Ensure to inform clients and suppliers of the brilliant action you’re taking towards a more sustainable planet and inspire innovation and conversation throughout the community.
Final thoughts …
So the question is, what are your thoughts on making it compulsory for festival organisers to sign agreements such as the Festival Vision: 2025 pledge to make them accountable? And what are you doing to make your events more environmentally friendly?