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03 Jul 2020 • Makii

Sustainability on Tour Vol. 3: On The Move

How green can touring really be(come) if one needs to move people and goods around the world?
The issue with transportation is subject of today’s post for Volume 3 of our Sustainability on Tour miniseries. 
  • Touring the world to play live shows is what we love, but it comes at a cost beyond the price of a show ticket. In today's post I want to discuss how moving a band, crew and their gear from venue to venue contributes to the carbon footprint of a tour. 

    Heads up! For this article I am focusing on road transportation (tour bus and trucks) excluding air travel.  

  • ​Faster and farther.

    “People are on the move faster and farther than ever.” (WRI)
    The transport sector is the fastest growing source of global greenhouse gas emissions, eating up a significant portion of our carbon budget. The IPCC report on climate change from 2014 states, that the transport sector alone produced 7 gigatonnes (1 gigatonne = tonnes) of direct GHG  emissions in 2010, which is about a quarter of energy-related CO2 emissions worldwide. A trend that has been steadily pointing upward, as shown in the graph below: GHG emissions caused by transportation have been rising by 250% from 1970 to 2010.

    âFaster and farther.
    IPCC: Direct GHG emissions of the transport sector (shown here by transport mode) rose 250 % from 2.8 Gt CO2eq worldwide in 1970 to 7.0 Gt CO2eq in 2010
  • ​On the road.

    Take a look at the graph above again. It shows us the share of GHG emissions by transport modes and that big blue chunk should immediately catch your eye: road transportation. This summarizes all those cars, busses, lorries, motorcycles, scooters and yes, of course nightliners and trucks in the event industry are a part of it. So when relying on these fossil fueled vehicles for touring, we are contributing to one of the biggest sources for CO2 emissions overall. In turn, big problems often hold potential for great changes.

  • Efficiency is key.

    When it comes to touring, we need to get from venue to venue somehow. But since zero carbon nightliners or lorries do not yet exist, right now the aim is to find the most efficient way of doing so. For a production our size, using a nightliner is one of the most efficient ways of traveling, because it kills two birds with one stone (well, in the hope of saving birds obviously). A nightliner makes sense for big travel parties (like ours), because it saves you from having to use multiple vehicles (which would multiply fuel usage also) plus you bring your hotel with you, which saves lots of various resources in itself. Another beneficial method is to plan routes efficiently to avoid zigzag courses. Finally, reverting to alternative fuels like biodiesel can have a huge impact on the overall footprint of a tour. 

    Efficiency is key.
    © Anthony Molina
  • “Decarbonization of the transport sector would create a cleaner, healthier and more affordable future for everyone. And it can be done without sacrificing the interconnectedness we've come to expect from modernity.” World Resources Institute, 2019

  • Looking back at a recent post of mine, I discussed that travel is a big part of a tours' footprint. But not the personnel or equipment travel alone can solve this problem. You, our fans play your own part. Please consider using public transport, cycling or even walking to the next event you attend. It’ll make a difference 🤩

  • Turn on the lights!

    Now that we’ve seen how to move everybody and everything from A to B, let’s talk about how to power our setup once we arrive to the venue for Volume 4: Electricity. 

Title picture: Philipp in Köln 2020 © A. Molina

Wanna dig deeper?
IPCCs report on Transportation 
NewYorkTimes article on the cost of travel