A British-based group called Music Declares Emergency is launching campaigns in Canada this year to help tackle the issue of carbon emissions generated by the music industry.
MDE was launched in the U.K. in 2019 when large-scale climate strikes were occurring across Europe. The conversation about the music industry’s impact on the environment has been ongoing since, and the first-ever Canadian Music Climate Summit was held in Toronto in October, prompting calls for green initiatives in this country’s music industry.
The Ottawa Music Industry Coalition hosted a panel on Jan. 24 that brought together speakers from MDE Canada, the Sectoral Climate Arts Leadership for Emergency — SCALE — and local Ottawa musicians and activists.
Kimberly Fry, MDE Canada representative, said more than 90 per cent of emissions in the live music sector do not come from the artists, but from audiences traveling to shows.
MDE Canada’s initial campaigns in 2023 will focus on creating incentives for audiences to use public transit and carpooling to attend live performances.
‘We underestimate the platform that musicians have in the capacity for music to really touch people on a level that environmentalists and scientists have been unable to do.’— Kimberly Fry, spokesperson, Music Declares Emergency Canada
“We underestimate the platform that musicians have in the capacity for music to really touch people on a level that environmentalists and scientists have been unable to do,” Fry said during the panel discussion.
Music Declares Emergency Canada will work with artists to craft messages that encourage fans to use environmentally friendly options to get to shows.
The advocacy group will also lobby governments at different levels to reduce the cost of public transit.
“One of the big pieces that governments of all levels could chip in for is to help reduce transit fares because Ottawa has some of the most expensive transit fares in North America,” said Laura Shantz, climate activist and board member of Ottawa Transit Riders.
Event organizers also hold influence when it comes to promoting shows. Shantz mentioned that if events include the cost of transit in the ticket prices, it will take away some of the hesitancy for audiences to take the bus or train.
Ottawa Bluesfest has been taking the lead on this by including OC Transpo passes in their ticket sales.
“The panel we had,” said Akeem Oh, panel facilitator and local musician, “is really just the beginning of a bigger conversation that will definitely start to happen this year in Ottawa.”