Imagine for a moment that you’re in charge of concerts on seven continents — on the same day — while also attempting to reinvent the impact they have on the planet. Welcome to the lives of John Rego and David Pascal. Rego is one of the Global Leads for the Live Earth Green Team, managing the greening of all 9 venues and the Live Earth organization; while Pascal is the Director of Events and Entertainment for the Alliance for Climate Protection We literally just jumped off a conference call with both of them and threw every question we could think of into the conversation. Here’s what we found out:
The “greening” of Live Earth is more than just focusing on the actual concerts. What the organizers really want to accomplish is increasing awareness and promoting behavioral change for attendees. John Rego said, “I see the entertainment industry as a microcosm for change. If we can push change forward after the event, than we’ve succeeded on a far greater scale than anything we could achieve at the concert.”
With regards to the actual energy needed to support the concerts, all venues will source their power from green sources. The stages will be run specifically off of biodiesel generators. There are currently no plans to use on-site energy generation from sources like solar or wind. This is generally because of space constraints.
Are concession stands going green? You betcha. According to Rego and Pascal, one of the most difficult (and frustrating) aspects of organizing the concerts was dealing with relationships that were already in place. You have to engage the myriad of companies that come together to make it happen. Fortunately, many were willing to adopt new policies and attendees will see those results in the food and containers. So far, Johannesburg, New York, and hopefully Brazil will also be using bio-ware compostable containers for food. One of the challenges with Rio is that most of the food vendors are also street vendors. Pushing the education of “Why?” and gaining participation has been “interesting”. In Japan, all food will either be local or organic and will be handed out on recycled silverware.
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Next week, both the Live Earth website and MSN pages will be reaching out to ticket holders and educating them on the best earth-friendly ways to get to each concert. Artists as well have been given handbooks and guidelines for traveling to the venues. In the UK, some bands will even be car-pooling to the event. The Live Earth org has coordinators working with individual groups to ensure that the carbon footprint of their transportation is minimized. While all these efforts are fantastic, Rego emphasized the future stamp saying, “The measure of our success is a long-term measurement.”
Specifically focusing on some individual countries, Germany was applauded for their incredible waste management system — not just from a policy point of view — but also from a social. Citizens are simply more aware of what garbage should go where and the responsibility in ensuring it gets there. In Japan, biodiesel will be sourced from used tempura oil. Compliments were also handed our on their waste management and the willingness of the production teams to embrace Live Earth’s green concert guidelines. Johannesburg, who will be using bio-ware for food and other packaging, will have somewhere between an 80-90% waste diversion rate!
One of the critiques of the concert series has been the vagueness surrounding where the profits from the events will go. While the organizers have nothing definitive to announce, they did say that “they’re working on a list.” What they could say was that the money will go towards future projects, with local orgs getting behind legacy initiatives (Australia and the UK were mentioned specifically) Also, the Alliance for Climate Change will use funds to offset residual effects of the concerts and future endeavors.
In between sets on stage, films will be shown and guest speakers will address the crowds on the green topics. For the first time at Giant’s Stadium in NJ, on-site recycling will take place. For those locations that do not have recycling, waste haulers will separate the garbage off-site and report back on their diversion success afterwards.