Carbon emissions in music
Iceland Music recognises its role as a music export office and the contribution of the music industry to global climate change. As administrators of the Music Export Fund, Iceland Music is responsible for assisting in, and purchasing, air travel for Icelandic musicians to perform abroad as well as music industry travelling to and from Iceland both directly and indirectly.
Staff at Iceland Music regularly travel to international conferences in order to enrich our work. However, this means that travel accounts for the vast majority of our carbon emissions. In 2018, air travel from Iceland Music staff and projects directly produced 70 tonnes of CO2e.
With the Keeling Curve exceeding 415ppm for the first time in more than three million years, the fight against global climate change is more urgent than ever. The impact of climate change can be seen in the changing of Icelandic seasons, weather patterns, and glacial retreat.
Hekla Forest project
In 2019, Iceland Music organised two days of tree-planting at Hekla Forest in order to offset carbon emissions generated both from company travel and the Icelandic music industry at large. Two tree-planting sessions on May 11 and June 1 saw a total of 18,600 birch trees planted in the area near Sultartangi Hydropower Station over the course of four hours each day. Apart from Iceland Music staff, an additional 75 volunteers, both Icelandic and international, participated in the carbon offset event.
According to the Hekla Forest Project, 1000 silver birch trees are able to sequester approximately 70 tonnes of atmospheric carbon over a 30-year period in a 0.5 hectare area. Over a 30-year period, efforts from 2019’s tree-planting events will sequester a total of 20 times Iceland Music’s carbon emissions from 2018, making Iceland Music’s 2018 year carbon-negative.
what you can do
We encourage musicians to take similar steps to offset the CO2e impact of their travel. There is a wealth of information available online, and organisations such as Votlendi are working to restore Icelandic wetlands and marshes. Musicians are welcome to participate in Iceland Music’s tree-planting programmes with the Hekla Forest, and Landvernd is a prominent advocate for environmental protection. Climate strikes are ongoing and are held every Friday at 12:00 at Austurvöllur.
While a reduction of carbon emissions is always the first step, we recognise that for travelling musicians, travel is often the most difficult area to reduce CO2e. To this purpose, carbon offsets and carbon sequestration programmes are a recommended method of carbon balancing. REDD+ programmes, which reduce emissions by protecting and sustainably managing forests in developing countries, are among the most effective methods of preventing greenhouse gas emissions. Organisations such as Cool Earth and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations are examples of REDD+ programmes.
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