Some facts and figures…
- According to a report by the IPCC (2001) substantial and significant research indicates that most of the change in our climate in the last 50 years is due to human activities.
- UK temperatures are expected to rise by 2 – 3.5 degrees Celcius by 2080 (Defra, 2005).
- Globally 10% of the hottest years on record occurred since 1990.
- Landfills sites in the UK are approaching capacity, emitting gases that contribute to global warming.
- The Ozone layer is depleting globally and over the UK (Defra, 2005).
- Recent research from the US proves that car fumes cause asthma, a breathing condition that now 1 in 8 children in the UK suffer from – a six fold increase in the last 25 years (Semylen, 2003).
- The effects of climate change include rising sea levels, loss of bio-diversity, more extreme weather conditions and natural disasters (Defra, 2005; EEA, 2005; IPCC, 2001; King, 2004).
- Carbon Dioxide (CO 2) is one of the greenhouse gases contributing to the climatic changes (EA, 2005). Burning of fossil fuels emits CO2 to the atmosphere.
The UN, EU and the UK government are taking steps with the aim of slowing the damage of climate change. The UN produced the Kyoto Protocol which sets a target for 12.5% reduction in emissions of a ‘basket’ of greenhouse gases compared to 1990 levels by 2008-2012 (UNEP and EO, 1991; Defra, 2005). 144 governments signed the agreement; however the world’s biggest polluter (the US) has yet to sign (Herbert, 2005).
At European level the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) sets an emissions ‘cap’ (level to which CO 2 emissions must be reduced) which is shared out between participants based on market share or by auctioning. Phase 1 covers only fixed ground industrial installations, but phase 2 (to be implemented 01/01/08) will extend its scope and enforce more demanding targets (EAC, 2005). It is therefore possible that such demands could affect music festivals.
The UK government are increasing their policy framework for environmental protection (Welford and Gouldson, 1993). For example, one domestic target is to reduce emissions of CO 2 20% by 2010, and 50% by 2050 (Defra, 2005; EAC, 2005). The government also believes that emissions charges and taxation should be considered in addition to the EMS trading scheme (HMG, 2005).
There are various laws, regulations and agreements at UN, EU and UK level designed to reduce the harmful effects of human activity on the environment.
The Climate Change Levy came into force in 2001 as an environmental tax to non-domestic users of energy (HMRC, 2005). The Hazardous Waste Regulations Act (2005) provides that hazardous waste can not be sent to landfill with non-hazardous waste (EA, 2006). A statement regarding new regulations on the disposal of waste was published in the industry magazine ‘Event Organiser’ in September 2004, and warned event organisers that the industry would now need to reduce and recycle its hazardous waste instead of sending it to landfill (Ambrose, 2004).
The Environment Protection Act (1990) and the Environment Act (1995) gave further provisions to the legal powers of environmental protection enforcement. The latter also established the Environment Agency as a body with the aim to protect and enhance the environment “to make the contribution towards attaining the objective of achieving sustainable development” (EA 1995 S4(1)).
This shows a move towards stricter environmental controls in the UK. To what degree does this effect festivals. Are festival organisers aware of such laws?
A number of authors argue that as signs of environmental damage become clearer through research and more frequent natural disasters, pressures to slow damaging effects are increasing not only legally and politically, but also by society at large and ultimately the consumer (Welford and Gouldson, 1993; Wheatley, 1993; Defra, 2005).
Sharpley (1999) argues that a major characteristic of postmodernity is the social transformation to concern for the environment. Similarly Munt (1994, p.57) talks about the “sustainability discourse of postmodernisation.” Southgate and Sharpley, (2002, p.234) suggest this is reflected in the coming together of a “new social movement” with the emergence of Green Peace and Friends of the Earth etc.
Tresidder (1999) argues that postmodern society feels ultimately rootless, and that tourism is used as an escape from the mundane to temporarily feel connected with something away from the pressures of daily life. Tresidder (1999) suggests that the process of sustainable tourism may restrict such freedom.
It seems that two perspectives on the discourse of postmodern society are presented here. Is environmental protection seen as a burden that impinges on the visitors’ experience of being free from the troubles of the world? Or does postmodern society concern for the environment mean that the opposite is true?
Tarlow (2002, p.226) identifies increased media coverage as a contribution to “greater emphasis on food and water safety” at events. Is media coverage of environmental issues increasing?