Tackling Travel

ecolibrium’s communications manager Bethan Riach details the charity’s new Travel Carbon Calculator app.

Phone with ecolibriums website ecolibrium is a charity that helps event organisers, audiences, artists and suppliers tackle the impacts of travel at events. Since 2015 it has helped members, which include large festivals such as Boomtown Fair, Download and Reading, international artists such as Joss Stone and Novo Amor, event suppliers and many smaller events and theatre tours, balance the equivalent of 13 million travel miles of carbon emissions with investment in renewable energy and ecosystem protection and regeneration.

Although the live events industry is still in the midst of the Covid crisis, this pause in the headlong rush to create events has given many people the chance to reflect on how we can #BuildBackBetter and work towards a green recovery. With travel causing 80% of the average event’s carbon footprint, at ecolibrium we believe that finding ways to tackle travel is key to creating a more environmentally responsible live events industry.

The latest of our tools and resources designed to help everyone in the live events industry understand, record, reduce and balance emissions from travel is our Travel Carbon Calculator app.

There is no quick fix to the issue of travel, reliant as we are on the current transport infrastructure and future government targets for phasing out fossil fuel use in vehicles, but we’ve helped over 100 members to find ways to reduce their carbon emissions. We provide tools to measure and reduce them by working with events’ audiences, artists, staff and crew to engage in sustainable travel initiatives, promoting audience lift sharing, incentivising public transport and coach travel, and encouraging people to engage with understanding their travel footprint through travel calculator tools.

Crowd at an eventTravelling completely CO2 free to events that are hundreds of miles away is not usually feasible, although some hardy souls do cycle to events, companies offering festival bike tours have emerged and EV cars are on the increase. Despite these alternatives, petrol or diesel cars and live-in vehicles are still the go-to option for festivalgoers, suppliers need diesel-heavy vans and trucks for kit, international artists fly or bring a tour bus, and even the more sustainable options, such as trains or coach travel, cause carbon emissions. So, for unavoidable travel emissions, ecolibrium has the option to balance CO2 through one of its climate solutions programmes: Trees+ which supports tree planting, rainforest protection and ecosystem regeneration, and Energy Revolution, which invests in community-owned renewable energy projects.

How it works
Over the first lockdown we worked with software developer Digitwell Solutions to transform our online Travel Carbon Calculator and offline Travel Logging tools into an app, to make it even easier for people in the live events industry (and beyond) to calculate, record and balance their travel carbon emissions.

We believe artists, managers, event professionals and freelancers can use this app to make a significant difference to the carbon footprint of their work and increase the industry’s shared understanding about the impacts of travel. It helps users analyse and understand the carbon emissions from different travel choices, models carbon lighter routes to reduce emissions and balances unavoidable CO2 through climate solutions.

Free to download, the app helps keep track of travel associated with different jobs or for different events and clients. Users can also choose to share their carbon-balancing action with fans, audiences and clients to help positively frame the wider changes we need to see in our travel behaviour. It can be downloaded from GooglePlay or by searching ecolibrium in the App Store.

ecolibrium appSocial shifts through events
In many ways we must see the environmental impact of events as a problem, but from another perspective they present opportunities. In the microcosm of an event we can trial new ways of doing things, powering stages with renewable energy, completely banning plastics and getting meticulous about recycling. In this sense, arguably the biggest opportunity for the live events industry is its capacity to influence audiences in terms of their attitudes to climate change and their part in taking positive action.

With emissions from audience and fan travel adding so heavily to event carbon footprints, the scope to encourage audiences to understand the impact of their choices and change how they travel, both to events and in their daily life, offers event organisers the chance to be part of the societal shifts we need to make for a sustainable future.

One of ecolibrium’s missions is to hasten this change – empowering audiences and everyone working in the live events industry to understand their emissions, choose lower carbon forms of transport, balance unavoidable emissions and share and celebrate their positive action to create a movement for change that ripples out wider than the industry.

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