Liverpool becomes first UK city to commit to Paris climate agreement for major live events

The council will issue licences for concerts and festivals that agree to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50%

Liverpool has become the first city in the UK to commit to the Paris agreement for major live events.

The city will only issue licences for concerts and festivals that agree to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to help meet climate goals, The Guardian reports.

Festivals and concerts will have to use a proportion of renewable energy to power the festival and reduce the number of cars visitors take to events. The new licences will begin next year and will call for greener measures for events taking place over the next five years.

The Paris agreement was signed in 2015 by 196 countries to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C by the end of the century.

A total of 310 UK local authorities have officially declared a climate emergency, but Liverpool is the only one to commit to the measures.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, said “we’re proud to be one of the first local authorities to lead the way in tackling the climate emergency.”

Liverpool council has taken the step after research released on Tuesday (28 February) found car travel to festivals made up a significant proportion of an event’s climate emissions - but it was not normally included in the festival’s carbon footprint.

A study from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at Manchester University, found festivals could reduce emissions by reducing parking spaces.

Researchers estimated the negative impact of audiences travelling to eight large festivals in the UK, including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds.

They estimated Bestival had the largest carbon output per ticket holder, while Glasgow’s TRNSMT had the lowest - this was due to the festival having fewer car parking spaces.

They calculated that festivals may be able to halve their overall carbon emissions by reducing car parking by 70%. The researchers suggested festivals should provide more options for travel, such as train, coach or active travel, such as cycling.

The figures were very approximate as no data on carbon emissions caused by travel to festivals has been collected.

‘We must learn how to do things differently now’

Researchers estimated that reducing car use for Glastonbury by 20%, by arriving by train or shuttle bus instead, could save about 400 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

The research was commissioned by ACT 1.5, an independent group of event producers supported by the Arts Council England.

The new research by the group came out of a study in 2021 looking at decarbonisation of live music from Massive Attack and the Tyndall Centre.

The Tyndall research found “a double failure of regulation and innovation” when it comes to large live music events, but it said there was huge potential for reducing emissions by significantly reducing the number of private vehicles audiences used to get to the venue.

ACT 1.5 producer Mark Donne told The Guardian it was “brilliant to see a globally iconic music city like Liverpool blaze the trail for climate action”.

He said: “Just as in all areas of life, we must learn how to do things differently now if we have a hope in hell of keeping global warming at anything like safe levels. Urgent action has to include activities that are most popular, and that we as a society enjoy the most.”

Ms Anderson said: “As a city globally renowned for music and live events, we’re committed to doing everything we can to create more sustainable events.

“This year more than ever, the cultural spotlight is on Liverpool as the city gears up to host the Eurovision Song Contest – and we’re proud to be one of the first local authorities to lead the way in tackling the climate emergency, using Gold Standard licensing measures to encourage and assist promoters to produce much cleaner events.

“We want to encourage best practice in Liverpool, and as well as welcoming world-class events to Liverpool, we will be working with them so they can play their part in decarbonising our society.”