Hannah Love is a lifelong festival goer.
She considers her first festival to be the Sidmouth Folk Festival, when her mother was eight months pregnant with her. Now an expert on baby sleep and parenting, Ms. Love tells me she has attended festivals in all her 46 years.
“My children and I would choose a festival over a holiday,” says the mother of three. She says that when she brings her children, she looks for festivals where the whole family can enjoy themselves.
“For example, I like Wilderness because there are forest crafts, swimming, good headline acts, plus playing fields for the kids to explore. We feel safe.”
Although the acts and activities are the main attraction, she says the values of a festival are also important.
“I think the kind of festivals I go to put a big emphasis on sustainability and attract people like us who care about the environment. Going to a festival has a much lower carbon footprint than traveling abroad.”
It’s something the entire festival industry is thinking about. It takes a lot of electricity to run a festival, and the festivals often take place in remote areas where there is no connection to the national electricity grid.
Many festivals rely on fossil fuel generators that emit carbon dioxide, the main cause of climate change.
The British festival community alone uses more than 12 million liters of diesel every year, according to research by A Greener Future, a sustainability consultancy and think tank Powerful Thinking.
Transport is another major source of emissions, and includes people coming to the event and goods being transported to and from the venue.
Festivals are doing their best to improve their impact on the environment.
For example, last year’s Glastonbury Festival featured a 20-metre wind turbine to supply selected market stalls.
The turbine, installed by Ocotpus Energy, along with solar panels and a battery, supplied a small power grid with enough electricity to run 300 refrigerators a day.
More and more festivals are investing in greener energy options, including solar energy and battery storage.
One of the driving forces when it comes to green festivals is Chris Johnson, co-founder of the Shambala Festival in Britain, which has implemented a series of environmental measures over its run.
It serves only vegan and vegetarian food, and has switched from diesel generators to sourcing energy through sustainably sourced hydrogenated vegetable oil, solar and hybrid units, and is introducing energy tariffs for traders to encourage greater responsibility for energy consumption.
Mr Johnson says there has been a “complete culture change” at Shambala.
He adds: “What we’ve realized… is that we need to reduce demand, so a big part of what we do is work with anyone at the festival who uses power, for example food traders, and try to reduce demand and power .”
Mysteryland is a three-day electronic music festival in the Netherlands that attracts 130,000 partygoers every year.
Head of operations Maarten van’t Veld says they have taken a number of steps to become less dependent on fossil fuels.
Now 80% of the power is generated by solar panels on a nearby farm. The festival and its partners have also dug electricity cables into the ground to connect the festival to the national electricity grid.
“It [connecting to the grid] It was a major investment, but in ten years we will have recouped the investment and then we will have no additional costs,” says Van’t Veld.
He says connecting to the grid can be a major challenge.
“There is a scarcity of power capacity in many areas in the Netherlands, which means that some companies cannot obtain a new grid connection or expand their existing connection.
“We started this project in 2017 and ordered this new connection some time ago. If we started this project now, it probably wouldn’t be possible.”
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At Shambala, Mr Johnson says investing in sustainability is worth it.
“Audiences increasingly expect their festivals to take action. The main driver of ticket sales is still where your friends go, and also the line-up. But audiences expect their festivals to be sustainable, so I think there is increasing more of a business case for is becoming a more sustainable company.”
Reducing fossil fuels was one of the key points in the European Green roadmap, a list of sustainability checkpoints for the festival and events industry, drawn up by A Greener Future and the European Festival Association (Yourope), which was presented late at the Amsterdam Dance Conference revealed. last year.
Because many festivals rely on diesel generators, the report states that “power generation from non-renewable, fossil fuels is not sustainable and should be phased out.”
Claire O’Neill, co-founder and CEO of A Greener Future, and co-author of the European Green roadmap, says all industries need to change, including the festival sector.
“The EU Green Deal sets the target of a 55% reduction in emissions by 2030. The festival sector does not have such a roadmap, and many of the actions we have been working on with festivals for almost twenty years in the area of sustainability can be quite ad hoc. Nothing really changes fundamentally over time.”
She says establishing grid connections is important, but admits it is expensive.
With transport making up the majority of emissions, Ms O’Neill says it is vital that festival organizers work with transport companies to ensure people travel to and from the venue in the greenest possible way.
Sometimes artists themselves can lead by example: Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters took the train to Glastonbury last year.
While there is limited regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from music festivals, most progress in the sector has been the result of voluntary action by festival organisers, says Sophie Tuson, environment and climate change practice leader at international law firm RPC.
However, she warns that festival organizers planning to promote the sustainability of their events should carefully assess their green claims.
“Scrutiny of green marketing claims is at an all-time high, and UK consumer regulators are taking proactive steps to tackle greenwashing through increased enforcement action.”