The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research (TCCCR) has carried out research that has identified the greenhouse gas emissions impact of major UK music festivals, and that there is a lack of action on the part of both festival promoters and licensing local authorities to tackle the problem.

It said that despite the launch of sustainability initiatives by the live music sector, the industry is failing to make meaningful commitments or issue clear targets on Scope 3 emissions, particularly audience travel, where between 65-80% of greenhouse gas emissions for the events are generated.

The research has been commissioned by the ACT 1.5 project – an independent, production led unit that resulted from the 2021 Massive Attack X Tyndall Centre decarbonisation of live music roadmap for the live music industry to make emissions reductions compatible with the 1.5 degree temperature change limit specified in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The TCCCR said its research suggests a double failure of regulation and innovation, but more positively, the scale of potential emissions reductions possible by incrementally transferring audience travel away from the use of private vehicles.

Information on car use at festivals is not required for granting a licence, and TCCCR said the lack of data on carbon emissions from festival audience travel is currently a blind spot in local authority climate responses, despite 75% of all local authorities having declared a climate emergency.

It said reducing car parking by just 20% could lower festival travel emissions, excluding flights, by 10%.

ACT 1.5 is calling for the implementation of a “gold standard” set of model licensing conditions to be used by city and local authorities when approving festival licenses or renewals, with an incremental, year-on-year minimum standard of GHG reductions to facilitate compatibility with multi-sector Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) targets to reduce all emissions by 50% by 2030 – including Scope 3 emissions.

Eurovision host Liverpool City Council has become the first authority to commit to the gold standard conditions as city policy.

ACT 1.5 producer Mark Donne said, “It’s brilliant to see a globally iconic music city like Liverpool blaze the trail for climate action, by agreeing to use the ACT 1.5 Model Conditions as its licensing touchstone. This latest Tyndall research demonstrates that major music festivals are still not doing nearly enough on Scope 3 emissions. Just as in all areas of life, we must learn how to do things differently now if we have a hope in hell of keeping global warming at anything like safe levels. Urgent action has to include activities that are most popular, and that we as a society enjoy the most.”