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Diesel’s negative impact at festivals cited by two reports

25 June 2019

TWO SEPARATE festival sustainability initiatives have revealed the extent of diesel pollution at festivals and appealed for funding for resources to help the industry make 50 per cent carbon emission cuts by 2025.

The first report, issued by environment sustainability businesses Hope Solutions and Zap Concepts, reveals that the UK event sector burns the equivalent of 150 Olympic swimming pools of diesel annually and releases 1.2 million tonnes of CO2, roughly the same quantity as the economy of Malta.

Meanwhile, environmental festival campaign group Powerful Thinking (PT) has launched a crowd-funding appeal for £25,000 to update its Show Must Go On report, first launched in 2015, which set-out its Vision:2025 sustainability objectives, including the 50 per cent cut in green house gas emissions.

The Hope/Zap report combines figures from various sources, including PT, Julie’s Bicycle and A Greener Festival, to conclude that festival diesel consumption is an avoidable source of harmful pollution in countryside settings.

“Event sites in green spaces have worse air quality than inner-city areas, indicating a hidden contributor to … air pollution,” says Hope’s Luke Howell. “For the organisers, every litre of diesel not used saves money and fights climate change.”

According to PT’s Chris Johnson, “The first Show Must Go On report created a sustainability road map of where the industry can go.

“Eighty festivals signed up to it and in the last four years there has been an increase in monitoring energy use and finding out what happens to festival waste when it leaves site,” he says.

“Many festivals have appointed a sustainability officer and one member of Vision:2025, Festival Republic, has just announced it will reduce its group emmissions by 50 per cent.”

He says the £25,000 target will cover research and project management of the new report, while any further amounts raised would help create environmental information resources for organisers. 

“There’s a need for guidance on issues such as sustainable fuel, bio plastics and more,” he says. “There’s no point 500 festivals trying to work out the best thing. Modest funding could provide free expert advice.”

Festival Republic events include Reading (cap. 90,000) and Leeds (80,000) festivals, while other events signed up to Vision:2025 include Creamfields (70,000), Boomtown Fair (60,000), Shambala (15,000) and Wheels & Fins (5,000).

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