Norwegian Music Festivals First in Climate-Friendly Network

ARENDAL, Norway, July 21, 2008 (ENS) – Two top Norwegian music festivals are joining the international fight against climate change. The two festivals, run from the southern Norwegian city of Arendal, are the first music festivals to sign on to the UN Environment Programme’s Climate Neutral Network, known as CN Net.

Canal Street, Norway’s biggest jazz and blues festival, opened today in Arendal using certified green energy for the concerts. It continues through Sunday, featuring John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, and The Waterboys, many bands of local, European, and U.S. renown, boat cruises, kids’ events, a parade and nightly jam sessions.

The Canal Street festival draws an audience of about 30,000, who will be able to purchase certified organic and Fairtrade T-shirts and use organic cotton and paper bags in the city area to reduce plastic bag use.

View from the stage at the
Canal Street Festival (Photo
courtesy Canal St.)

Canal Street organizer Hans Birger Nilsen said, “I think there are enormous opportunities to take these ideas forward to an even larger audience. One of the first opportunities will be to share our experiences and actions at Europe’s Jazz and Blues Congress in November.”

Over the past several years, Canal Street has been building up an environmental profile, and is cooperating with the Hove Festival and others on the mapping of their carbon footprint and on reducing energy consumption.

Funds raised by the offsets are going to support Clean Development Mechanisms in China approved by the United Nations under the Kyoto Protocol.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “The greening of live musical events represents an opportunity to lower the carbon footprint of not only the entertainment industry, but those of millions, if not hundreds of millions of people worldwide.”

“Climate change tops the charts as the number one challenge facing this planet,” said Steiner. “Unless all sectors of society step up to the bar and address this challenge, we will all be singing the blues.”

The Hove Festival, an annual rock event held this year from June 23 through 27, featured acts Beck, Duffy, and rapper Jay-Z. The event drew audiences that totaled about 50,000 to the island of Tromoy outside Arendal.

Audience rocks at the Hove Festival
in Arendal. (Photo courtesy
Hove Festival)

Participants, including staff and entertainers, were invited to pay by credit card or SMS for their individual carbon footprints caused by their travel to the festival and activities during the events.

These funds are being used to support a methane-to-electricity project on a landfill in China approved by the UN as a Clean Development Mechanism project under the Kyoto Protocol.

Other energy saving measures at the Hove Festival included solar charging points for mobile phones, electric golf carts for on-site travelling, and LED lighting systems powered by wind and solar power. Recycling was encouraged, and eco-debates were held in cooperation with GRID-Arendal, UNEP’s polar centre.

Morten Sandberg, the festival’s organizer, said that the carbon footprint of the 2007 festival accounted for just over 1,300 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This was calculated by the use of a specially developed online carbon calculator.

“This year’s carbon footprint is now being quality checked, and we are eager to see the difference and analyze this further in order to learn more about how we can continuously reduce our impact on the climate,” Sandberg said.

“The leaders of the Hove Festival have been in the international music industry for the last 18 years and have a unique network, which includes other leading festivals as well as international booking and management companies of rock stars and bands all around the world,” said Sandberg.

“We are sure that this new UNEP-led music network can grow to become as powerful as the network UNEP already has established with the sports industry, including the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup,” he said.

The main purpose of the partnership is to create a European network of music festivals that can learn from each other, challenge each other and push each other to become even more sustainable in the future.

Eventually, Steiner hopes to extend these initiatives to other continents, including Asia and North America. “The Hove Festival and Canal Street can serve as models for musical and entertainment events everywhere,” he said.

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