Chantal Kerr-Sheppard, director of Event Cycle, discusses the IPCC’s latest report on climate change and how eventprofs can implement changes in everyday planning…

On April 4, part three of the AR6 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released, with a clear directive to us all: “The time for action is now”. If we want to limit global warming to 1.5℃, we need to immediately reduce our emissions across all sectors and regions.

Appealing to the problem solvers of the events industry, the third edition of the report focuses on solutions that could see us cut emissions in half by 2030 and highlights why business as usual is no longer sustainable for the planet. Dedicated policies, infrastructure change, and new technologies are the tools we as a collective need to apply to the three key areas for action. So where can we make the biggest impact in event planning?

Avoid air travel

We all know and understand the impact of air travel, and this is one of the biggest contributors to emissions mentioned by the IPCC. Start by implementing a policy that charges internal carbon fees for long-haul travel to encourage a think-twice mentality, making sure the fee exceeds that required for carbon offsetting. Make travel alternatives more attractive by incentivising sustainable options, not just encouraging them, something the festivals already do well. Finally, choose destinations with reliable train connections and don’t allow single-person car trips if you can.

Better energy sources

Money follows demand and the report sadly noted that investments in solar, wind, and hydroelectric power remain far short of the target necessary to prevent climate disaster. The way to turn the tide is to change our electricity suppliers to renewable sources both at home and at work. In business, ask every supplier, venue, client, or contractor to make an evidenced and active effort to switch to a better energy source now.

No more beef

We’re often afraid to offend the meat-eaters among us for fear of bad feedback but by changing our eating behaviour, we can make a huge difference to the amount of methane pushed out into our atmosphere. Identified as a key culprit of climate change, agriculture and in particular cows, are responsible for too many emissions. This is easily altered with a no-tolerance approach: Cut red meat from your menu and introduce more plant-based alternatives. It’s as simple as that.

Incorporate carbon capture

Moreover, we need new technologies to capture and store carbon because planting trees will never be enough to mitigate the amount of carbon we currently produce on the planet. To take more carbon from the atmosphere than we put in means net-zero is not an end goal that we should be aiming for, but a milestone on our journey to innovate our way out of a problem we have accelerated. Our creativity for curing the carbon problem needs to be as brilliant as the event briefs we answer each week and it’s time to start incorporating carbon capture into our events alongside the measures listed above.

These are not new ideas, but these are the ones that will work. The scientists have spoken, and the challenge has been set. They’ve even been kind enough to provide us with the solutions. Take this as your call to action to stop reading and start doing.