Following an extremely difficult & frustrating period for live music during the COVID19 pandemic, Massive Attack are now pleased to publish and offer as an open resource to our industry the Roadmap to Super Low Carbon Live Music, commissioned by the band & produced by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research – a specialist body that brings together scientists, engineers, economists, and social scientists to accelerate society’s transition to a sustainable low carbon future and avert climate catastrophe.
As an immediate response to this substantive exploration, we’ve designed 6 major emissions reduction modules for our 2022 tour, to trial implementation, carry out modelling on interactive practicalities and transferabilities, and to then bring all project learning together in a major UK testbed show to proliferate change.
We’re also excited to be working with industrialist Dale Vince and Ecotricity to design bespoke convergence partnerships with a variety of music arenas and venues – so we can create far greater renewable energy capacity for the UK grid, help train event staff to run and generate sustainable operations, and to introduce vegan food options in front and back of house set ups.
In relation to the roadmap overall, we’re pleased that the UK music industry now has a comprehensive, independent, and scientifically produced formula to facilitate its own compatibility with the Paris/1.5 degrees climate targets. Given the unique profile, reach and emotional resonance of our art form, it’s crucial that live events lead the way in these urgent developments, and that as a sector overall our actions match our words. As the report states:
“Only a material and fundamental shift in practices and technology globally can prevent catastrophic climate change. How live music stakeholders and the industry as a whole embrace climate action is a part of this global response.”
In examining current UK live music practices specifically, Tyndall analysts identified “the need for an urgent and significant reassembly of practices in the sector” and that despite some good work and efforts “progress must be rapidly accelerated and substantial shifts in industry practice are needed.” As a band of thirty years touring history, we agree with both conclusions.
But primarily, we feel the Tyndall roadmap presents all in the live music sector with a range of opportunities to innovate and lead the field in combating the climate emergency.
Blending report recommendations into all future live performance planning will now allow us to experiment with innovative technologies, and to develop further unique relationships with Local Authorities, promotors, venues, system designers and transport and power providers to create new production models, to share as open resources with live music operations of any size or scale.
We’re keen to accelerate potential solutions that are beginning to emerge as collectively, we begin to provide answers to direct challenges emanating from the Tyndall report:
For indoor shows, which venues and promoters can provide “plug and play” options to remove the constant and unnecessary movement of touring production freight that often duplicate within 24-hour show-to-show cycles? How easily can venues switch their power supplies to genuinely renewable sources that materially increase new solar and wind capacity for the UK grid overall?
For our festival sector facing the inevitability of increased environmental measures within the licensing framework and the urgent replacement of diesel power: what role can central and local government now play in the provision & viability of clean battery technology for festival events? Where can new local & national partnerships with promoters be created, that plug events into the power grid and create localised supply chains, including catering, services, and equipment?
And for both: how do we incentivise audience travel via rail; where can we utilise pre-sale periods for rail travellers, smart-to-rail ticketing, freestanding event-specific offer pages operated by train providers, and ultimately for major events – the experimental use of individual chartered trains? Who are the partners to collaborate on smart-routing tours, adapting transportation possibilities to the lowest carbon emitting option, and test electric freight options & the viability of rail freight networking?
We hope that our own processes, discussions, and partnerships can prove useful in answering these questions in clear, quick, and transferable ways, in order that tours can be designed with GHG emissions reductions as an equal priority.
Too often carbon reduction targets can seem overwhelming or unattainable, but we know from our own experience of band travel via rail (achieving an instant 31% reduction overall in the most carbon intensive band activity) and the availability, now, of biogas HGV technology that offers 90-95% GHG emissions reductions – that immediate action is possible. And our own discussions with renewable power providers and transport operators demonstrate more existing opportunities for positive change.
Tyndall researchers state:
“super low carbon practices can only be delivered if they are central from the inception of a tour. Super low carbon needs to be baked into every decision – routing, venues, transport modes, set, audio and visual design, staffing, promotion etc … this requires the various actors in the sector to use their direct power as well as their wider influence to overcome barriers and champion new practices.”
Massive Attack are committed to using whatever direct power or wider influence we have to forward these objectives. But we also want to see these transitions carried out fairly and equitably, in order that smaller independent venues and festivals who have suffered so badly during the COVID 19 pandemic don’t suffer further – and are financially supported in their own adaptations, by both the government and the sector overall. As the report makes clear:
“We recommend that the sector act collaboratively to support smaller venues and festivals that may struggle to meet improved regulation and standards to be well positioned for the net zero transition.”
As we now approach the critical COP26 moment, the call from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” will be ringing in our ears. We hope the Tyndall Roadmap fires a starting pistol for the music industry to embrace the multiple opportunities for change the report authors have provided, and that live music can lead the way in decarbonising the world.
“Code red for humanity” could not be more vivid. We must act now.
The full Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research roadmap can be found here