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In troubling times, Claire O’Neill, CEO at live events sustainability consultancy A Greener Future calls on individuals and organisations to help forge positive change.

On 29 February, O’Neill will be speaking at the Event Production Show conference, where she will contribute to a case study on the recent ‘carbon removed’ concerts by The 1975 at The O2 arena. Register for EPS here.

Starting with the good news – the green transition will increase resilience and bring cost savings. Reducing waste, energy use, risks (including insurability), adapting to and preventing extreme weather are all no brainers. For example, in our investment grade energy audits with venues we find most energy saving equipment upgrades pay back within a year and then make savings. The bonus, for each kWh saved CO2 is saved.

The less than rosy backdrop is the extremely challenging times we face during this transition. The aftershock of Covid, skills shortages, Brexit, rising energy costs, all threatening the continuation of business at all, let alone a greener way. Globally, hideous treatment and slaughter of huge groups of people; a 70% loss of biodiversity in 50 years; increasing emissions, temperature rises; and culture wars feeding polarisation. There is understandably an air of collective existential crisis.

2024 is a year of pivotal elections. Governments have the power to make a green, just, economic transition succeed or fail. Whilst we have work to do to get our house in order, to curb our emissions, we more than ever have to use our privilege, platform and creativity.

What is urgently needed now is to counter division and misinformation using our powerful voice. The #JustVote24 apolitical campaign is an important vehicle promoting and encouraging more diverse voices to be heard. There are obstacles preventing young people from voting in the UK. #JustVote24 guides people through the voter ID process using competition entry as an incentive. We are calling on everyone who can to provide prizes, communication channels and screen space to promote this to get marginalised unheard voices in our country to stand up and be counted.

Practically, we are deep into green energy finding ways to support the sector to reduce consumption, costs, and fossil fuels. We launched the Low Emission Festivals project with Ecotricity, LIVE and AIF and to gather insight from power providers and events about their relationship and culture of energy within events, plus current usage, wastage and potential savings. Preliminary research results will be shared at GEI16.

For temporary power spaces the Grid Faeries project provides investment and technical support to install grid connections into regularly used event sites, eliminating or reducing the need for generators. For the built environment, there are opportunities afoot for the “top” of the sector to support the grassroots through investment into the green transition, allowing for cost savings across the board as well as emissions reductions. We are working closely with Ecotricity and UK associations to increase renewable capacity in the UK and make clean energy available for everyone through the National Grid.

In addition to transforming energy and taking on “the man”, organisations need to measure, monitor and report. This will be a legal requirement, directly or as a part of the supply chain. AGF is renewing and expanding the AGF Framework of our certifications, to reach more organisations than ever before. Get signed up for an AGF Assessment and site visit, including your CO2 footprint as well as biodiversity and social impacts and actions. 2024 will be a year of collaboration, metric and reporting standardisation, and increased engagement which will lead to actions at scale that can transform our sector for the better.

Finally, do not miss the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI16), 27 February, Royal Lancaster London. Organised by AGF and ILMC, the foremost conference for sustainability in live is packed with inspiring speakers including Brian Eno, Jarvis Cocker, Fay Milton (MDE), Dale Vince (Ecotricity), Blaine Harrison (Mystery Jets).