'A wake-up call to the industry': The O2 & The 1975 gig series removes 540+ tonnes of carbon

'A wake-up call to the industry': The O2 & The 1975 gig series removes 540+ tonnes of carbon

You may remember back in February that Music Week reported on The 1975 playing the world’s first carbon-removed arena events at The O2

Well, we now have the official results of the endeavour – a collaboration between venue owner/operator AEG Europe, live sector sustainability consultants A Greener Future, carbon removal enterprise CUR8 and the band. 

Conducted across The 1975’s shows at the venue in February, the “world-first” pilot saw the extraction and removal of 136.46 tonnes of residual carbon per show, equating to 545.9 tonnes across the four shows. This has been cited as being “the equivalent yearly electricity usage of 395 average homes.”

With initial venue data and insights from expert sustainability partners, The O2 says it was able to “predict the approximate carbon emissions of each show in advance, and develop a commercially and sustainably conscious event model that saw each relevant party take responsibility for their own contribution to the event’s carbon footprint.”

The resulting carbon footprint from The 1975’s shows revealed that “75.7% of emissions came from fan travel”. The O2 says this was covered by a combination of venue investment and a 90p contribution from fans, which was incorporated into the original ticket price. In contrast, only 3.95% of the nightly carbon footprint came from arena operations – which was driven predominantly by electricity usage and staff travel. 

The O2 is now saying the series “provides a successful blueprint for a more sustainable live event model utilising carbon removals.”

Speaking about the success, Sam Booth, director of sustainability at AEG Europe, commented: “With the success of this world-first pilot series of arena events, we’ve proven that it’s possible to run an arena-size live show which doesn’t compromise on a great fan experience but still accounts for the impact it has on the environment. We hope this serves as a wakeup call to the wider industry that carbon removals are a viable solution that can be used to operate live events, but they need buy-in from everyone in the live ecosystem in order to be a success – from venues and promoters right the way through to artists themselves. We’re fully committed to continuing to innovate and find even more ways to make our world-class events across AEG Europe more sustainable, as we strive for a low-carbon future for the live industry.”

With this world-first pilot series, we’ve proven that it’s possible to run an arena-size live show which doesn’t compromise on a great fan experience but still accounts for the impact it has on the environment

Sam Booth, AEG Europe

The O2 highlighted some of the other measures which assisted the result:

  • The O2 and CUR8 also each donated an additional 1% on top of the cost for each tonne of carbon removed to EarthPercent, a climate foundation geared towards identifying and funding impactful climate solutions in the live entertainment industry.
  • The O2’s investment in energy efficiency, with the recent installation of LED lighting and screens across the arena saving over 300,000kwh of energy in 2023 alone.
  • The O2‘s hospitality partner, Levy UK + Ireland, accounted for the removal costs across their operations, with carbon emissions for food and beverages across each show coming in at 7.46%, of which 85% was down to beverages. This was aided by the introduction of several recent initiatives, including a new food menu which generated 30% less carbon compared to the regular offering, as well as the launch of Notpla serveware. The 100% biodegradable product has a 70% lower carbon footprint than standard serveware and can be processed in The O2’s on-site biodigester and wormery. 
  • The O2 has invested in a permanent reusable cup scheme and cup-washing machines powered by electricity from renewable resources.

Further commenting on the results, Mark Stevenson, co-founder and chief impact officer at CUR8, said: “The real heroes here are the teams at AEG Europe and AGF, who are working to reduce emissions as much as possible and then committing to remove the rest – and in doing so, helping fund the carbon removals operating system that the planet (and every organisation on it) will need to reach net-zero. Importantly, The O2 and AGF have demonstrated the art of the possible. We cannot have a live music industry where the only route to net-zero is to not exist. By using carbon removals to mitigate the complex ‘audience travel’ or ‘scope 3 emissions’ problem, all within the existing business model of live events, these concerts demonstrate a possible future – one that speaks to life well-lived on a planet well-loved.”

You can revist our interview with AEG Europe’s director of sustainability Sam Booth, A Greener Future CEO Claire O'Neill and CUR8’s CEO & co-founder Marta Krupinska on the game-changing initiative here... 

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