Music industry declares climate emergency

Climate emergency

The music industry has declared a climate emergency and vowed to clean up its own act by cutting greenhouse emissions.

Chrissie Hynde, Nitin Sawhney, Thom Yorke and Nadine Shah are just some of the industry names who have backed Music Declares Emergency (MDE), a new industry group calling for more action on climate change.

Last week MDE released a two-part declaration calling for:

  • Governments to act to reverse biodiversity loss and reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2030.
  • All of us to recognise that the emergency has arisen from global injustices and will work towards systemic change to protect life on earth.
  • The music industry to acknowledge how its practices impact the environment and to commit to taking urgent action. 

 Supporters of the declaration also pledged to:

  • Jointly support one another, sharing expertise as a collective industry and community.
  • Speak up and out about the climate and ecological emergency.
  • Work towards making our businesses ecologically sustainable and regenerative.

British singer-songwriter Tom Odell says: “We must act, otherwise we shall have no one to blame but ourselves.” 

Paul Pacifico, CEO of the Association of Independent Music and a supporter of the declaration, says: “It is crucial that we do everything we can to change our own behaviours and the behaviours of the world’s biggest corporations, and that we influence governments in order to secure a positive future for our planet.

“We will do our part to make sure we help drive the agenda and work hard towards a net zero greenhouse gas emissions music industry.”

While this all sounds good in theory, reducing emissions and improving sustainability is a big ask for the industry.

For world class acts, an international tour is a feat of military style organisation – that burns carbon aplenty. This fact was not lost on many in the mainstream press, who were quick to point out that some of the top artists supporting the declaration will fly thousands of miles this year to tour and promote their music.

So how can artists reconcile their need to travel to promote and perform their music, with their commitment to the environment? Aware of this potential disparity the MDE website lists ways in which artists can reduce their carbon footprint. Tips include:

Measure the carbon footprint of your tour

Quantify the amount of energy you will use then look for ways to reduce this. Route tours efficiently to avoid one-off international appearances. Avoid flying – especially first or business – where possible.

Green your merch

Ditch plastic wrappers on CDs. Use recycled or FSC-certified paper and card. If you sell t-shirts, look for certified organic cotton, fabrics that incorporate recycled materials, or clothing made from more sustainable fibres like bamboo or hemp. 

Offset or balance your travel

If you can’t avoid flying, offset this or ask for a donation to an environmental cause to be built into your ticket price.


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