O2 Arena turns to carbon removals to address carbon footprint of concerts

The operators of the events venue in Greenwich have partnered with carbon removal market platform CUR8 for the project and are planning to pilot the accounting process live at The 1975’s headline shows next February.

In partnership with not-for-profit A Greener Future, which specialises in events sustainability, the O2 has collected and analysed emissions data from past events to create a system through which it can predict the emissions associated with future events before they take place.

Fan transport is a major contributor to any concert’s carbon footprint and, once energy, staff and band transport, catering and merchandise are accounted for, each of The 1975’s O2 shows is likely to have a carbon footprint exceeding 100 tonnes.

Using this data, the O2 will calculate the extent to which it needs to invest in carbon removals through CUR8. CUR8 has a global portfolio of carbon removal projects. It backs man-made solutions such as enhanced weathering and direct air capture, as well as nature-based solutions like soil restoration and forest creation.

Fans attending The 1975’s show will see 90p incorporated into their ticket price to fund the carbon removals through CUR8.

The O2’s parent company AEG Europe will badge the event as ‘carbon removed’. If trials are successful, the firm will explore the feasibility of adding the process to other events. It will also draw up best-practice advice that could be used by other venues, promoters and performers.

AEG Europe’s sustainability director Sam Booth said: “The perfect large-scale carbon-free event does not currently exist, but while the industry continues to innovate and improve to reduce emissions to their lowest possible level, carbon removals will remain an important piece of the puzzle.”

As well as the O2, AEG Europe manages venues including London’s Eventim Apollo and oversees the annual American Express Presents BST Hyde Park concert in the capital. It also operates several other events and locations in France and Germany.

CUR8 co-founder and chief impact officer Mark Stevenson was keen to emphasise that businesses like AEG Europe should not use carbon removals as a substitute for reducing emissions.

He said: “What’s great about these shows is that we can demonstrate that it is now possible to fold the cost of removing the residual CO2 into the existing business model, such that fans won’t notice any difference in the gig experience. As The O2 continues to drive down emissions going forward, the investment per gig for carbon removals will only get smaller.”

Not everyone is so keen on carbon removals. Earlier this year, the $11trn Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance “disallowed” the use of carbon removal investments to achieve short-term emissions goals. It argued that the greater focus should be on reduction in the first instance, with some investment in removals potentially playing a role for residual emissions in decades to come.

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