Leaders representing more than 500 festivals and other outdoor events across the UK have combined at the 2022 Sustainable Event Summit to launch a Green Events Code, to establish national minimum sustainability standards, targets and practices.
Developed by industry steering group Vision:2025, the Green Events Code is the result of almost a year of consultation spanning trade associations, local authorities, and event businesses and organisations. It is intended to provide clear standards and shared targets for sustainability that are understood and adopted by all stakeholders across the outdoor festival and events industry, including net zero.
The code will focus on the key areas of governance, energy, travel and transport, food and drink, materials and waste, water and positive influence. It is based on five key principles including that the industry: needs to act urgently on the climate crisis; will act based on evidence; will be transparent and report impact annually; accepts that not all climate-positive decisions will provide cost benefit in the short term; and will strive to improve year-on-year.
The overall aim is to commit to a minimum of 50% reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, with specific targets including: a 50% reduction in fossil fuel consumption at live events by 2025; a reduction of at least 30% in meat and dairy consumption onsite by 2030; and to completely eliminate single use plastic by 2025.
The launch of the code is supported by the organisers of large-scale UK festivals including Reading, British Summer Time, Boardmasters, Bluedot and Shambala. It has been financially supported by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Superstruct and Festival Republic, and is being developed in close consultation and collaboration with influential stakeholders including the Institute of Licencing, LAEOG, the Local Government Association, UK Music, LIVE, and the Event Industry Forum, E I F.
Association of Independent Festivals CEO Paul Reed chaired the ‘Future of Festival Sustainability’ panel at the Sustainable Event Summit, which discussed the code. He said: “It remains a uniquely challenging time for festivals, but it is vitally important that we maintain our focus on climate action and improving working practices around event sustainability. The Green Events Code UK will be invaluable in setting out clear and workable minimum environmental standards and targets for all UK outdoor festivals and outdoor events, helping to reduce carbon impact and move towards net zero.”
Alongside Reed on the panel, highlighting the collaboration between local authorities, festival organisers and climate groups, were Helen Thackary, CEO of the Local Authority Event Organisers Group (LAEOG); and Chris Johnson, Vision:2025 Chair and LIVE Green working group member.
Johnson said: “The Green Events Code represents a significant milestone for the industry, collaboratively creating standards that are meaningful for climate and workable for events and local authorities.”
Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Festival Republic, a Vision:2025 member and financial supporter of the code’s development, said: “The majority of local authorities have declared climate emergencies, are putting in place net zero strategies and in turn requirements for live events. The green code has the potential to create consistency for everyone’s benefit, rather than a lottery of expectations
Steve Heap, Chair of the Events Industry Forum (EIF), representing 35+ event trade associations and bodies, and publisher of the Purple Guide, said: “Our members and the industry need clear guidance, support and certainty around sustainability standards – a common reference and understanding of what best practice and minimum standards looks like. The Green Events Code can achieve this.”
John Langford, COO of AEG Europe and Chair of the LIVE Green industry group said: “This Green Event Code creates a timely, clearly defined standard for outdoor events, and follows the aspirations set out in the Live Green Vision for the wider music industry to deliver measurable and targeted action on climate change, with the ultimate aim of reaching net zero emissions.”
Hannah McLenn, Parliamentary and Research Manager, UK Music said:“The climate emergency is the greatest threat our planet faces. The music industry is coming together to ensure it does all it can to mitigate the impact of climate change. The Green Code is a welcome step in the right direction for outdoor events and responds to policy makers’ desire for the sector to make a difference.”
The Green Event Code is free to access on the Vision 2025 website, along with more information about the context, future steps, FAQ’s and how to get involved.