And while I’m thinking Festivals, Let’s talk Carbon Offsetting.

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Major music festivals are now offering patrons the option of carbon offsetting their tickets.

Splendour in the Grass and Big Day Out are two major festivals which have embraced the trend, asking patrons to pay an extra $7 and $1.34 respectively to offset their festival experience.

However they both take different approaches to offsetting.Mat Morris, the director of the Global Protection Agency, said Splendour’s approach of investing in renewable energy sources is far more effective in terms of timeliness, as opposed to Big Day Out’s tree planting offset.

“Trees have wonderful environmental benefits … but they can be problematic in the sense that emissions are generated by punters coming to and from a particular show at a given date,” he said.

“For the carbon to be offset associated with those emissions it can take seven or even 10 years … to absorb that equivalent amount of carbon.

“During that period of time you have all sorts of unknown variables, whether it’s drought, fire or a range of other factors that may impact on those trees.

“So a personal choice for me is to work with festivals on renewable energy because that starts to create a structural shift and move away from fossil-fuel related power generation.”

He said Splendour is unique because they offset their internal emissions as well, regardless of patrons’ choices to offset their contributions.

“[Splendour] first started with their own carbon footprint,” he said.Punters at Splendour in the Grass returning empty drink cans in exchange for free drink tickets. (Photo courtesy of Mat Morris, Global Protection Agency)

“So they had a look at what the emissions associated with all of the trucks bringing in fencing, and bringing in tents and other infrastructure.

(Above: Punters at Splendour in the Grass returning empty drink cans in exchange for free drink tickets. )(Photo courtesy of Mat Morris, Global Protection Agency)

“They also had a look at all their own internal air travel requirements, their own vehicle requirements, freight movements, even as far as offsetting the emissions associated with the merchandise.”Additionally, Splendour has a number of recycling initiatives in place to ensure the environment is looked after holistically.

John Quiggin, federation fellow in economics and political science at the University of Queensland, said there is a great need for government regulation.

“Ultimately these things should be automatically included,” he said.

“Once we have a full-scale emissions trading scheme they’ll be included in everything we buy according to the amount of electricity or fossil fuel that’s used to generate it.

“As a way of making people aware of the issue and getting them used to it … the direct purchase of permits has something going for it.

“I think the more general message is we can expect to pay a modest amount more for all sorts of goods and services as emissions trading becomes embedded right through the economic system.”

Carbon Offset Company Rankings

Outstanding (90% +) Climate Friendly – Splendour in the GrassCleaner Climate, Climate Positive, Southern Metropolitan Regional Council (SMRC)Carbon Reduction Institute
Good (75% to 89%) Landcare CarbonSMARTAGL, Enviro-friendly, Origin EnergyGreenpigGreen Pass, Low Energy Supplies and Services (LESS)Ark Climate, Carbon PlanetCoolplanet

Neco

Fieldforce Environmental

Adequate (60% to 74%) COzero, Global Carbon ExchangeCO2 Australia – Big Day Out
Statistics from http://www.carbonoffsetwatch.org.au/the-rankings

 

Phil Freeman, climate campaigner at the Australian Conservation Foundation, agreed and said offsets are a good beginning but stricter rules need to be imposed by the Federal Government to ensure patrons are not being taken advantage of.

“I think what we’ve seen so far is that because the Government hasn’t set up strong rules and regulations, it’s been a bit of a bit of a wild-west operation with the carbon offset providers,” he said.

“The moral of the story is you’ve got to be careful of what you buy at the moment until we have an official government scheme and that’s still a couple of years off.”

The organisers of Big Day Out were not available for comment.

-Kathleen

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