Zero Carbon Roadie helps touring artists with their carbon footprints


A growing number of artists are making their views known in the debate about how best to tackle the climate emergency. One of the thorniest issues for our industry, however, is touring.

Ocean conservation organisation Project Zero has a new tool that might help. It’s called Zero Carbon Roadie, and it’s a ‘carbon calculator’ specifically for touring musicians. It’ll calculate the impact on the environment of their travel, haulage, power generation and other touring activities, and then (if desired) help them to offset that through the organisation’s Blue Carbon Fund.

(‘Blue carbon’ ecosystems include “mangroves, seagrass meadows and salt marshes”, which can store a lot of carbon, while also providing valuable habitats for wildlife).

A basic version of the tool will launch this spring, and then later in the year an updated version will offer a more detailed analysis of tours’ impacts.

“We’re all on the journey to create a sustainable future for life on Earth, and like all journeys, you have to begin somewhere. Zero Carbon Roadie is a tool that has been specifically designed to inspire tours to invest in blue carbon projects that will sequester that carbon for hundreds of years,” said Project Zero CEO Michele Clarke.

For now, artists can email Project Zero to sign up to use the first version of the tool.

This is part of a wider trend as artists and the music industry figure out how they can best join the fight to tackle the climate emergency.

Earlier this month, we reported on Ninja Tune MD Peter Quicke’s speech at the AIM Connected conference in London, during which he outlined a number of steps that labels can take to reduce the environmental impact of their businesses.

Quicke is a co-founder of Music Declares Emergency, the working group created to coordinate the UK music industry’s response to the climate emergency. It won an award from European independent body Impala in November for its work so far.

Julie’s Bicycle is another organisation working to help the music industry (among others) in this area. It’s holding a ‘We Make Tomorrow’ summit in London later this month, to debate what the creative industries can do, with speakers including Brian Eno and Dirty Hit’s Jamie Oborne (who works with The 1975, one of the artists who’ve taken a lead in speaking out about the climate emergency, and what they’re doing to offset their own carbon footprint.)

Update: Julie’s Bicycle got in touch to remind us that it also has a set of Creative Green Tools that creative-industry companies can use to calculate their environmental impact, including tours and festivals.

Artists have faced criticism, including accusations of hypocrisy, when joining this debate. Last October, a group of musicians and celebrities backing the Extinction Rebellion movement, including Thom Yorke, David Byrne, Mel B, Eno, Imogen Heap, Orbital and Amanda Palmer, hit back at those claims.

“Dear journalists who have called us hypocrites, You’re right. We live high carbon lives and the industries that we are part of have huge carbon footprints. Like you – and everyone else – we are stuck in this fossil-fuel economy and without systemic change, our lifestyles will keep on causing climate and ecological harm,” explained their open letter.

“There is, however, a more urgent story that our profiles and platforms can draw attention to. Life on earth is dying. We are living in the midst of the 6th mass extinction… the stories that you write calling us climate hypocrites will not silence us.”

That’s why a tool like Zero Carbon Roadie could be really useful: it could help artists with one of the trickiest-to-fix aspects of their carbon footprints: touring.

Tools like this, as well as resources like the Music x Green website, launched in late 2019 as a directory of companies and organisations “that make the music industry greener, less impactful on the climate and ecology, and more sustainable overall”, will help artists and music companies alike to make positive changes.

Stuart Dredge

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