Brian Eno launched EarthPercent last year with the aim of raising $100 million from the music industry by 2030 to be spent on environmental initiatives. Access caught up with executive director Cathy Runciman to find out how the project is progressing

Celebrated musician, producer and passionate campaigner for the environment, Brian Eno, set up EarthPercent with the aim of encouraging artists and music-related organisations to pledge a small percentage of their income to the charity, which is then directed to organisations dealing with climate change.

With only 3% of all philanthropic funding globally going towards climate causes, EarthPercent’s Cathy Runciman (pictured) says one of the most impactful things the music industry can do is get more money as fast as possible to those at the forefront of fighting the climate crisis.

She says the initiative is still at an early stage but the response has been positive from the industry, despite the pervading economic challenges. Among the many contributors so far are Coldplay, Hipgnosis CEO Merck Mercuriadis and musician and producer Fraser T Smith.

“We’re just making our first round of grants from pilot activities – £128,000 to 13 organisations – which is simply a starting statement of intent. We see that ramping up dramatically towards our 2030 goal as we look forwards,” says Runciman.

Formed in partnership with music industry environmental organisations including Music Declares Emergency, Julie’s Bicycle, and A Greener Festival, the initiative involves an expert advisory panel comprising climate scientists, youth climate activists, community organisers, climate communication experts, academics and policymakers.

“We recruited advisors that come with various areas of expertise on climate change. It was also important to us to have diverse perspectives from climate experts based in different parts of the world, from diverse backgrounds and identities – and those with learned, lived and practised experience,” says Runciman.

Donations are used to fund organisations working across five key areas:

  • Improving the environmental impacts of the music industry
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring a just energy transition
  • Securing climate justice and equitable environmental stewardship
  • Advancing systemic economic, legal and policy change
  • Protecting, conserving and restoring nature

Runciman says the immediate priority is to move from pilot to launch phase: “The aim is to support and create community with everyone in music who wants to act on climate, and to spread the word – making it simple for organisations and artists from every part of music industry to contribute to impactful climate solutions. We’ll be busy over the next few months working towards our second round of grants to be made this December.

“It’s fantastic to see bands like Coldplay and Massive Attack share the evidence and knowledge they’re creating through their practices. It’s a challenging moment for many touring artists and there is a risk that competing pressures move sustainability down the agenda. By resourcing the greening music ecosystem properly, together we could make the research, tools and expertise needed to increase the rate of change available to all artists.

“We hear over and over again that artists want to reduce the environmental impact of touring and use their platforms for positive change. Music can have a huge positive multiplier effect – so we need to do everything we can across the sector to make both of these things possible.”