Some facts and figures…

  • US$345 billion: global subsidies for fossil fuels resulting in US$5 trillion in overall costs, including nature deterioration externalities; coal accounts for 52% of post-tax subsidies, petroleum for +/-33% and natural gas for +/-10% (IPBES, 2020)
  • According to a report by the IPCC (2013) 95% of scientists agree that humans are the dominant cause of global warming since the 1950s.
  • Across the UK, central estimates of the average regional summer (June, July, August) temperature rise in the 2080s are between 3 and 4°C (UKCP09, Defra 2009)
  • Since the start of the 21st century, the annual global temperature record has been broken five times (2005, 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016) (NOAA, 2016).
  • 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).
  • Research 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), and Particulate Matter from combustion engines is now widely known to cause premature deaths.
  • 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, deforestation and unsustainable food production emits CO2 and other potent greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Political Factors

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).

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development has become a significant focus for the government, following the commitment to Agenda 21 framework produced by the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 (BOCOG, n.d.).

Whilst the exact meaning of the term sustainable development is in itself a debated area, the most widely used definition is that of the WECD (1987) that, “Sustainable development satisfies the needs of the present generation without compromising the chance for future generations to satisfy theirs.”

IUCN (2003) describe the characteristics of sustainable development that could make this possible.

Sharpley (1999) highlights that although this has been widely accepted by governments, societies and NGO’s alike, it is still an intensely debated subject. A key question highlighted is whether sustainable development is a viable option to achieve long term global development. No references are provided to support this, however figures published by the UN show that 178 governments signed the Rio Declaration (Agenda 21) which lists 27 broad principles for sustainable development (BOCOG, n.d).

Sharpley (1999) also argues that society, government and individuals increasing concern about environmental degradation since the 1980’s is reflected by environmental issues becoming international concern, and green political parties challenging GNP as the indicator of economic growth.

Whilst certain political agendas for the environment and sustainability may see an increase in cost for certain activities, it may also provide a good opportunity for funding and sponsorship. As the UK is committed to a number of ‘sustainability targets’, promotion and practice of the means to achieve this is required.

Bowdin et al (2001) and Yoeman et al (1999) suggest that events are targeted by governments as a way to reach the public and influence attitudes. As festivals are required to operate in conjunction with local authorities there may be targets that the local council need to meet and festivals could be of benefit here. This may attract financial support, and improve the chance of a Public Entertainment Licence ( now a Premises Licence or a Temporary Event Notice pursuant to Sections 1, 11 and 100 of the Licensing Act 2003) being granted. However, any pressure applied on local authorities is likely to be reflected in the PEL conditions for festivals.

Technological Factors

The present UK government is particularly focused on the development of new technologies to slow environmental degradation, such as those for renewable energy sources (EAC, 2005). This may have an impact upon power supply firms, for example, generator companies who supply festivals. The UK governments target is to raise renewable energy use to 10% of the total by 2010 (Defra, 2005) Renewable energy usage in the UK has increased around 40% since 1998 (Appendix 5).

Legal Factors

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?

Sociological Factors

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?

Corporate Social Responsibility

Millins (2005) states that organisations have social responsibilities due to their interactions with the external environment. ‘Agency theory’ sees directors of a company as agents to the owners/shareholders whose responsibility is to maximise the owner’s profits. Stakeholder theory suggests that business should seek to balance the interests of all of its stakeholders, of which there can be many (Millins, 2005).

Agency theorists may see implementation of EFPs unfavourably, unless there were some clear vested interest for the owners e.g. cost savings through efficiency. Millins (2005) suggests that agency theorists may take a long term view of maximising owner interests, and that building strong relationships with all stakeholders, or taking a principle stance on ethical issues would strengthen owner value. This is described as ‘intelligent self-interest (Millins, 2005, p.168).

“Corporate social responsibility is concerned with the ways in which an organisation exceeds the minimum obligations to stakeholders specified through regulation and corporate governance” (Johnson et al, 2005, p.191)

Here Johnson et al (2005) give a definition reflecting the stakeholder theorists’ perception. It poses the question to what degree are festival organisers prepared to go beyond the regulations set forth? What factors inspire such action?

Business Ethics

Wheatley (1993) argues that businesses have an ethical obligation to prevent pollution and environmentally damaging practices, in addition to the obligation posed by an increasing body of law and consumer pressure. There is no universal set of ethical principles, and wright and wrong depends upon the circumstances (Moon and Bonny, 2001). To what degree is environmental protection considered to be an ethical choice to UK festivals?

The worlds largest concert promoter Clear Channel Communication Inc. (n.d. p.15) (or Live Nation as it is now known) released a modified company policy report online, which included two paragraphs about the employee responsibility to “carry out company activities in ways that preserve and promote a clean, safe, and healthy environment…(Appendix 6).” The emphasis is upon adhering to the law to avoid litigation, but it is also recognised as an ethical obligation.

With regard to the ethics of corporations it was most eloquently put by an eighteenth century lawyer:

“Did you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience, when it has no soul to be damned, and no body to be kicked?” Edward, First Baron Thurlow (1731 – 1806, att.)

Against such a picture of the corporation, the notion of corporate ethics seems rather tenuous.

Mahoney (1997) states that some believe increased interest in business ethics is a case of companies just following the trend. The Author identifies three reasons for the growth of business ethics popularity:

  • To keep in line with competitors.
  • Due to increased pressure.
  • The potential for profits.

Mahoney (1997) goes on to argue that taking the ethical course of action when addressing a business problem could in fact be more costly, however any potential monetary benefits are more likely to manifest in the long-term.

If applying such theory it is important to remember the varying size and organisational structures of UK music festivals. Some may be run by major corporations, whilst others may be non-profit organisations etc.

Taken from Should UK Music Festival Organisers Implement Environmentally Friendly Practices into Event Management? Submitted in part fulfilment of the requirements for award for the degree of BA (Hons) Music Industry Management of Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College.

Selected References

The Guardian provide an excellent environmental resource on their website – see:

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2005) Sustainable Development [online]. Available from: [Accessed 10 October 2005].

Forrester, S. and Singh, S. (2005) Contrived Landscapes: Simulated Environments as an Emerging Medium of Tourism Destinations. Tourism Recreational Research.30 (3), 69-76.

Environmental Audit Committee (2005) The International Challenge of Climate Change: UK Leadership in the G8 & EU. (Mr Peter Ainsworth MP). London: Stationery Office.

Getz, D. (1997) Event Management and Event Tourism. New York: Cognizant Communication Corporation.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2001) Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis.Third Assessment Report.

King, Sir D. (2004) The Living Planet Report 2004. October. WWF

Pérez, A.E. and Rosselló Nadal, J. (2004) Host Community Perceptions: A Cluster Analysis.Annals of Tourism Research. 32 (4), 925-941.

Semylen, A. (2003) Cutting Your Car Use. Devon : Green Books

Sharpley, R. (2003) Tourism, Tourists and Society. 3 rd ed. Cambridgeshire: ELM Publications.

United Nations Environment Programme Industry and Environment Office (1991) Technical Report Series No6:Companies’ Organisation and Public Communication on Environmental Issues.Paris: UNEP.

Wallace, G. and Russell, A. (2004) Eco-Cultural Tourism as a Means for Sustainable Development of Culturally Marginal and Environmentally Sensitive Regions. Tourism Studies: An International Journal. 14 (3), 235-253.

Welford, R. and Gouldson, A. (1993) Environmental Management and Business Strategy. Essex: Edinburgh Education.

Wheatley, M. (1993) Green Business: Making it Work for your Company. London: Pitman Publishing.

Yeoman, I., Robertson, M., Ali-Knight, J., Drummond, S., McMahon-Beattie, U. (eds.) (2004)Festival & Event Management: An International Arts and Culture Perspective. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.