“We still have to compromise in between our desire for cultural activities.”
– Gwendolenn Sharp, The Green Room
The cultural mobility of artists and audiences plays a vital role in shaping our society and enriching our lives with diverse experiences.
However, it is important to recognize that this mobility also carries a substantial environmental burden in the form of carbon emissions and resource consumption. Implementing sustainable practices throughout the entire life cycle of cultural events, from production to consumption and disposal, is crucial for minimizing the ecological consequences of cultural mobility.
Session leader: Héloïse Lesimple, The Shift Project
Speaker: Gwendolenn Sharp, The Green Room
Article written by Angela Mognol
What is the impact of mobility in the cultural sector? What are the orders of magnitude linked to the different modes of transport? What are the levers for avoiding and reducing the impact of mobility linked to cultural events?
In this article, we will explore the key takeaways from their discussion, specifically focusing on the carbon footprint and the upstream and downstream activities associated with cultural mobility.
“In an age where global connectivity and cultural exchange are more accessible than ever before, it is essential to acknowledge the environmental implications of cultural mobility. ”
– Héloïse Lesimple, The Shift Project
At the heart of the discussion on environmental impacts is the concept of the “carbon footprint.”
A carbon footprint is essentially a calculation of the total greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), associated with an individual, organization, event, or product. The purpose of understanding and calculating carbon footprints is to reduce the environmental impact and contribute to mitigating climate change.
In the context of cultural mobility, it is vital to comprehend the carbon footprint of artistic and audience mobility. When artists, audiences, and production teams move from one place to another, whether it’s for a concert, exhibition, or performance, they leave behind a trail of carbon emissions. This includes emissions from transportation, accommodation, and various other activities associated with these events. As the world grapples with the consequences of climate change, it becomes crucial to measure and reduce the carbon footprint of cultural activities.
“For 3% of people who take the plane to go to a festival, it represents more than 60% of the impact.”
– Héloise Lesimple, The Shift Project
To understand the complete picture of environmental impacts, it is essential to distinguish between “upstream” and “downstream” activities. Upstream activities encompass everything involved in the production and supply chain of goods and services: the extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, and packaging. Downstream activities, on the other hand, refer to the consumption and disposal of products or services.
The environmental footprint associated with cultural mobility extends both upstream and downstream.
For instance, constructing elaborate stage designs can result in substantial resource consumption and emissions during the production phase. Downstream activities pertain to the disposal of waste generated during cultural events and the environmental consequences of the travel undertaken by artists and audiences.
Impacts on Carbon Footprints: The Green Room case study
Recognizing the carbon footprint generated by cultural events and venues is essential for making informed decisions about emission reduction strategies and ensuring alignment with global climate goals, as the Paris Agreement. This approach extends beyond venue emissions and also considers the mobility of artists, audience members, and staff. This encompasses daily commutes and international projects, both of which introduce various mobility challenges, especially within Europe.
The Green Room compared emissions data on both a European and global scale. They benchmarked their findings against various types of music venues and festivals, taking into account factors such as venue size and different industry practices. This data-driven approach provides a solid foundation for making informed decisions and setting realistic sustainability targets.
Challenges and Objectives:
Meeting carbon budgets
One of the most significant challenges is adhering to a carbon budget that aligns with the 1.5-degree Celsius global warming limit. To navigate this challenge, The Green Room have chosen to work within the 2-degree scenario, recognizing the need to make substantial cuts in their activities. This decision is a testament to their commitment to environmental responsibility and their willingness to take proactive steps to mitigate the impact of the music industry.
Adhering to carbon budgets is not just an environmental objective but also a valuable tool for informed decision-making. It helps The Green Room prioritize sustainable practices while considering the broader impact on the music industry. By setting clear carbon reduction targets, they can drive positive change and inspire others in the sector to do the same.
Addressing audience mobility presents a complex challenge. While there is growing awareness within the music sector regarding the environmental impact of audience transportation, it remains a significant issue. Moreover, it’s a sociological question that extends beyond the music industry: why do audience members often choose private cars over more sustainable options like buses or carpooling? The Green Room’s work aims to find answers to these questions and develop strategies to encourage more sustainable choices among concertgoers.
What is our takeaway?
The cultural mobility of artists and audiences plays a vital role in shaping our society and enriching our lives with diverse experiences. However, it is important to recognize that this mobility also carries a substantial environmental burden in the form of carbon emissions and resource consumption. Implementing sustainable practices throughout the entire life cycle of cultural events, from production to consumption and disposal, is crucial for minimizing the ecological consequences of cultural mobility.