Chris Johnson, co-founder and sustainability lead at Shambala Festival and chair of Powerful Thinking, discusses travel in his new, and regular column dedicated to helping organisers become more sustainable

I’m delighted to introduce Stand Out’s new green column. I will be bringing you practical information each month, keeping you up-to-date with industry news, solutions and resources that support organisers to make events and festivals more sustainable.

Our first topic is travel. Nationally, transport accounts for 26 per cent of emissions in the UK. The Show Must Go On report showed that travel typically accounts for 80 per cent or more of a greenfield event’s carbon footprint. So, it’s a good first step to reduce environmental impacts.

In a nutshell, reducing travel impacts means fewer private cars, higher vehicle occupancy, and more festivalgoers using shared forms of transport, or using sustainable fuels. Carbon balancing has also become common with events.

Many events have successfully trialled initiatives to reduce travel impacts in these ways. In 2011, Glastonbury’s Green traveller initiative set aside a percentage of tickets for combined coach and entry packages, providing incentives such as food vouchers and discounted merchandise. Boomtown doubled its coach numbers in one year between 2016 and 2017 using entry and travel packages, reducing the car parking space required and CO2 emissions produced.

Many events such as Latitude, Boomtown, and Shambala have offered guided cycle rides with partners. Festivals, such as Kendal Calling, are working with train service providers to offer discounted deals, and city events such as Redfest in Bristol have provided serviced cycle parks and mechanic services for festivalgoers arriving by bike. Car share initiatives have been around for a long time and continue to provide mostly younger audiences an option to travel cheaply and sociably.

In 2018, electric car charging points emerged at many festivals. The number of coach providers dedicated to the festival sector is expanding. Operators such as Tuned In Travel are balancing their passengers travel emissions on their behalf, and the Big Green Bus Company has developed an electric bus run on solar energy from its depot.Other events have charged car passes on site only to cars that are not full or have less than three people travelling, and 37 festivals are working with UK charity, Energy Revolution to balance travel miles.

Energy Revolution works with event promoters, audiences, venues, artists and their agencies, ticket platforms and the industry supply chain to measure and balance the emissions from festival and tour travel miles. To date, it has balanced more than eight million travel miles, with 100 per cent of all donations going directly to projects that generate clean renewable energy, including wind turbines in India and the UK, and community solar projects in the UK.

These projects directly prevent fossil fuel-based energy being produced, reducing emissions, and creating an energy infrastructure fit for the future. I believe that we will see radical changes in the coming years.

Electric car sales are exponentially increasing, and the future of travel is almost certainly efficient grid-connected public transport systems, and local transport links using battery or sustainable fuels. Organisers can take practical steps to reduce travel impacts, working with their audiences and suppliers and more detailed advice about travel can be found in the Guide to Sustainable Travel for Festivals and Events.

In other news, tickets are on sale for the eleventh annual Green Events and Innovations Conference, taking on March 5, where organisers can engage with a variety of sessions on sustainable event management.

Next month, this column will look at campsites. If you have any information or questions on this topic, email chris@powerful-thinking.org.uk