Leaders from more than 500 UK festivals and other outdoor events have launched a Green Events Code that will establish national minimum sustainability standards across the industry.

The main aim of the code 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 eliminate single-use plastic by 2025.

Developed by industry steering group Vision:2025 and launched at the 2022 Sustainable Event Summit, the Green Events Code is the result of almost a year of consultation from trade associations, local authorities, and event businesses and organisations.

The launch of the code is supported by the organisers of large-scale UK festivals including Reading (cap. 105,000), BST Hyde Park (65,000), Boardmasters (53,000), Bluedot (25,000) and Shambala (15,000). It has been financially supported by the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Superstruct and Festival Republic and is being developed in consultation and collaboration with influential stakeholders including the Institute of Licensing, LAEOG, UK Music, the Local Government Association, LIVE, and the Event Industry Forum (EIF).

The code is based on five 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”.

Paul Reed

Chairing a panel at the Sustainable Event Summit which discussed the code, AIF CEO Paul Reed 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 the Local Authority Event Organisers Group (LAEOG) CEO Helen Thackeray and Chris Johnson, Shambala co-founder, 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.”

Chris Johnson

Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn 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.”

EIF chair Steve Heap 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.”

AEG Europe COO and LIVE Green industry group chair John Langford 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.”

UK Music parliamentary and research manager Hannah McLenn 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.”