Published Mar 15, 2010As if the music industry wasn't taking enough blame already, get a load of this. According to a study recently completed by UK and U.S. researchers on behalf of the Environmental Research Web, (part of the Guardian Environment Network) the UK music industry is responsible for a whopping 540,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
Three-quarters of that total is from live performance, while the remaining quarter is from recording and publishing.
As the Guardian reports, the study was commissioned from the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute by Julie's Bicycle, a non-profit launched in 2007 by a committee of UK music industry heavyweights.
"This is the first study to map the greenhouse gas emission profile of the music industry," the University of Surrey's Catherine Bottrill told Environmental Research Web. "Furthermore, there are few publicly available studies of service industries and we can't think of one directly comparable."
She added, "A number of artists are firmly committed to social and environmental issues, such as Annie Lennox, U2, Sting, KT Tunstall and Peter Gabriel to name a few, but until the efforts of Julie's Bicycle, these artists did not have the coordinated support of their industry behind them." (Ironically enough, U2 were slammed by environmentalists last year for their Earth-damaging 360° world tour.)
Bottrill claims the industry needed an original research project to accurately determine its environmental impact, since so little information was available on the subject. To determine the environmental impact of touring, the researchers used a number of case studies, from which they extrapolated data to determine the impact of all the tours combined.
They found that audience travel accounts for 43 percent of greenhouse gases produced, while live venue music events create 23 percent, and music recording and publishing emit 26 percent. Of the emissions caused by recording and publishing, music retailing and CD packaging/distribution were found to be the most emissive.
Julie's Bicycle is in the process of putting together guidelines based on this research that will aid in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the UK music industry. One such step is the group's campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from CD packaging, venue energy use and audience travel.
No word yet on whether the American or Canadian music industries are conducting similar studies.