Moving from conversation to action on climate change

14 July 2023

One of the most frustrating things for me in working in this climate area is the talking. There is a LOT of talking. Some of that is a necessary part of doing business, part of that is the enthusiasm of ideas that cascade from every blog, podcast, report, and panel and, were I not being so curmudgeonly, that should be a good thing, right? Somewhere in all that talking are the things that are an answer to this crisis we have collectively got ourselves into.

In music that is everything from new power sources for outdoor to packaging for product. There are green riders and new agreements on standards like the Green Events Code, pioneered by Chris Johnson and the Vision 2025 team. There are new products made from new materials, the bioplastic vinyl from Evolution Music that MDE spends a decent amount of time promoting (cos we think its brilliant), and wholescale interventions and innovations like Billie’s Overheated event last year.

Given its recent arrival, special mention here for Coldplay’s touring sustainability report. If you want to know what is possible when you really want to make it happen, just click the link.

But, as with the world outside music, a lot of the talking remains just that. Great ideas die on the vine for lack of funding and support, connections that could be made and that would make a real difference splutter as their protagonists fight with overbearing workloads and to do lists that are more aspirational than organisational. That hurts because those ideas can be the R & D of a future music industry and those people can be the pathfinders for a UK Music industry that is halfway to leading in this area and could easily continue to lead with the right dedication and commitment across the board.

But, if I’m being absolutely honest, some of the talking is to avoid action. That’s the part that is really frustrating. The climate emergency is not a marketing opportunity.

In the last month a selected roll call of ‘stuff that is definitely down to the climate emergency unless you are convinced that you know better than the world’s scientific community’ reads:

  • The hottest recorded temperature on Earth for a five day stretch (and counting).
  • A deep sea mining plan that would cause untold devastation in a part of the planet we are yet to fully understand or survey.
  • A shipping agreement to net zero that is completely voluntary and talks of ambitions. (More of that worst type of talking there I fear).
  • Norway sanctioning new oil and gas exploration in spite of the clear warning that we can’t burn all the fossil fuel we are already extracting without breaching safe temperature rise limits.
  • The UK doing the same with Rosebank.
  • Record heat waves in the Southern States of the USA.
  • Extreme weather events and flooding in North Eastern US States.
  • Severe floods in China.

So talking for the sake of it, or to avoid action is not really an option anymore.

As a music industry and community, where does our role in this lie? We could say that it stops at the door, as businesses we sort out our own impacts and that’s it.

I and MDE believe differently. We believe that music in its widest sense (the businesses and the artists and the fans) can work together to deliver real opinion change, a real shift in public perception, and help to transform the conversation (more talking then) and the action needed to pull off that classic human move, the just in time save.

So, if you are in the position to take action or to, crucially, support those already doing that, what’s the hold up? This is a crisis after all. If you are in that position but are choosing not to, be transparent. Wear it. No more talking without action.

If you want to imagine an outcome that is most likely at the present time I suggest reading ‘The Ministry for the Future’ by Kim Stanley Robinson. Lots of 2nd hand copies here.