While the musical jamborees trumpet their climate credentials and court EU policymakers, activists and scholars accuse some festivals of greenwashing and a lack of transparency over their sustainability data.
European music festivals have been attempting to jump on the climate bandwagon — with one mega event this summer even inviting EU green deal chief Frans Timmermans to speak.
But while the musical jamborees trumpet their climate credentials and court EU policymakers, activists and scholars accuse some festivals of greenwashing and a lack of transparency over their sustainability data.
From England’s Glastonbury to Belgium’s Tomorrowland to Spain’s Primavera Sound, festivals have outlined the measures they are taking to combat climate change and become more sustainable. But whether reality matches the promoters’ rhetoric often remains unclear, as hundreds of thousands of people fly across the Continent to enjoy days of consumption and excess.
It’s time for music festivals to shed the risk of greenwashing, stop “showing off initiatives” and start “enforcing them,” said Dogan Gursoy, professor at Washington State University and author of a book on the climate impacts of festival tourism.
While Timmermans dialed in remotely in late July to Tomorrowland’s Love Tomorrow sustainability conference, a side event at the festival, the enormous transport carbon footprint remains music festivals’ biggest climate problem.
“A lot of festivals emphasize waste reduction, but if you look at the overall picture of carbon emissions, it is dominated by travel. Audience festival travel emits 11 times more climate pollution than waste does,” said Kimberly Nicholas, professor and sustainability scientist at Sweden’s Lund University.
Timmermans was undeterred — though he didn’t actually mention music festivals in his remarks at the Tomorrowland conference. “You are the people of tomorrow, eager to contribute, ready to step up and open to what may come. It is the exact attitude we need to tackle the climate crisis and to stop and reverse ecocide,” he told the audience.
Tomorrowland, held in July in the small Flemish town of Boom near Antwerp, this year attracted 600,000 electronic music fans from around the world, over three weekends of revelry. While promoting green initiatives like a “fun and easy” recycling club and a partnership with a circular water company, Tomorrowland also drew climate criticism after boasting about “party flights” in collaboration with partner Brussels Airlines to reach the venue.
A spokesperson for the festival said Tomorrowland had a long way to go to reach its climate goals, it isn’t looking to “greenwash” and that a sustainable power plan should be available by 2026.
This is an excerpt from an article by ABC originally published by Politico.