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TRANSPORT

For Aussie musicians, when there's no pandemic raging, touring large distances is pretty much unavoidable. But the average Australian tour (with 15 shows) creates 28 tonnes of carbon emissions. Behind these stats lies the fact that Australia has high polluting cars and relatively minimal spending on public transport. It's why our transport sector represents 18% of Australia’s annual emissions, our fastest growing and second largest source of pollution. So along with encouraging better transport infrastructure, it’s important that we improve the way we travel. 

For transport, planning is where you can make the most impact. So use the answers to the questions below to put together a plan for greener touring. As with waste, our aim should be to avoid travel impacts where we can by reducing the number of trips, performing online, or taking the most efficient route. Where that’s not possible, using more efficient transport modes lessens your impact (hint: literally anything is greener than plane travel) as does reducing the weight of gear that you take with you. 

You can start by asking questions like:

  • Can I take less equipment or hire some of it locally? 
  • Can I transport my equipment more efficiently (e.g. road freight or train, instead of plane)?
  • Can I reduce the number of vehicles or crew travelling, car-pool, use more efficient vehicles or hire some crew locally?
  • Can I travel in off-peak times to improve vehicle fuel efficiency?
  • Can I use an electric vehicle or a hybrid, rather than one that’s powered by fossil fuels? Will a smaller vehicle do the job?
  • Can I use another form of transport over flying?

AUDIENCE IMPACTS

One of the biggest sources of emissions can come from fans getting to shows – there are so many more of them than you. Considering where you hold your shows and how you communicate with fans about their transport options is arguably even more important than thinking about your own direct impacts.

  • Accessible venues: Prioritise venues that are easy to get to by public transport, walking or riding.
  • Travel information: Include information about public transport, bike and carpooling with gig details. And encourage your fans to use those options. Sydney has Trip Planner, Melbourne has Journey Planner and so does Brisbane
  • Audience incentives: If you’re able, offer fans incentives like access to sound check, entry to a competition or free (Earth-friendly) merch if they make greener choices. 
  • Ride sharing: Consider some of the many new online ways to encourage better transport options like supporting fans to connect for rides via social media or using a platform like coseats to facilitate ride sharing.

Case Study: The Green Touring Toolkit

Want to green your next tour? Arts on Tour’s Green Touring Toolkit (2022) is a step-by-step guide that comes with a handy carbon calculator designed by ARUP. We recommend checking out the toolkit and using it to support you and your team as you green your travel plans. Some key take-aways:

  • To make your touring green, there are actions we can take pre-tour, on tour and post-tour. Good planning is important.
  • To get started, make a commitment, get your team on board and make a plan.
  • Map out your touring route and look for ways to remove or redesign high emission legs. The graph below shows the striking difference between different modes of travel.
  • Follow a hierarchy of Remove, Redesign, Offset - with offsetting as the final priority.
  • Assign any money saved on more sustainable travel choices to a budget line for offsetting.

Read more in the toolkit at Arts On Tour’s Green Touring website.

WHAT ABOUT CARBON OFFSETTING?

Offsetting is a way of compensating for your carbon dioxide emissions. It doesn’t stop your impact, but reduces emissions somewhere else on your behalf. When you pay for carbon offsets, they’ll use your money for things like:

  • Building renewable energy projects, which switches electricity production from dirty fossil fuels to clean, green options
  • Planting trees, which absorb carbon dioxide as they grow
  • Energy efficient technology, like electric stoves and lamps, to replace older, dirtier technology
  • Methane recovery, from landfill or livestock, recapturing waste gas for energy

If you measure all of your emissions for a project (like a tour), an entity (like a band), or an activity (like an album), you can buy offsets equal to that amount and make it ‘carbon neutral’. You’ve still created emissions, but you’ve effectively balanced them out by contributing to an equal amount of offsets somewhere else.

So, can we just offset all our emissions? No. We can’t use offsets as an escape hatch from reality. There’s already far too much carbon in the atmosphere, and offsets are hard to measure and monitor (and even offsets that look ok can turn out to be downright fraudulent). 

What we need is deep green, transformative change. So start with a genuine plan to lower your own carbon emissions - and encourage your fans to do the same - then once you’ve reduced as much as you can, think of offsets as a positive bonus. 

Some products (like flights) offer carbon offsetting as an additional add-on. You’re arguably better to do it than not at all, but check what you’re getting and consider offsetting separately if the quality isn’t high. Below is our suggested approach.

Start by measuring your carbon footprint

Reduce your emissions as much as possible

  • Use this guide to reduce your impacts from waste, transport, food, merch and more, and develop a plan to keep improving over time. Need support? Get in touch with the team at  Green Music Australia. It’s literally why we exist.

Choose quality offsets that are independently accredited

If you do buy offsets, look for ones that are accredited with a reliable standard that is there to to make sure offset projects do what they say:

  • Gold Standard credits accredited by the World Wildlife Fund
  • Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) accredited by international non-profit VERRA

Here are some reputable sites where you can buy good quality offsets directly (as suggested by the David Suzuki Foundation):

  • Gold Standard is, as the name suggests, the gold standard
  • Planetair only uses Gold Standard offsets
  • Atmosfair sells offsets from projects that are either registered or applying for Gold Standard
  • Less uses high quality offsets, is independently audited and tracks offsets on internationally recognised registries

And a couple of good local options:

Not all offset projects are created equal. And it can be hard even for experts to sort the good from the bad. We think the options above are good choices, but things can change. That’s why we suggest you think of offsets as a way to take responsibility for your unavoidable emissions, rather than as an ultimate solution. If you try to make big claims about your ‘carbon neutrality’ without making sure your offsets are reliable, you could run into issues. Reforestation projects, for example, are popular but risky because of difficulties in measuring, managing and monitoring the projects and the captured carbon. Some even have issues with climate colonisation, where overseas projects infringe on First Nations lands.

If you want to understand how different kinds of offset projects work, along with the associated risks and things to watch out for - like double counting, poor management, propping up dodgy industries, and more - check out our website.

Tell your fans about it

Explain what you’ve done, sharing why it matters to you and how it’s part of your bigger commitment to living green through your music practice. Some bands work with their ticketing company to add a small carbon offsetting fee to ticket purchases, allowing fans to offset some of a concert’s emissions. This can be a good way to raise awareness and do good in the world. Just make sure the offsets are from a good source.

WHAT ELSE?

Of course, these kinds of individual actions are just the beginning. We know the issues we face are systemic. So while we’re improving personal footprints, we also need to push for collective, political change. That’s why your voice is the most powerful tool you’ve got. See Speaking Up for our suggestions on how to use it well. Or get in touch if you want to get more involved in the Green Music movement.

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