As restrictions from the pandemic ease, the events industry is once again ramping up for a change in the way it does business. With the return to in-person events, many event planners, organisers, and marketing professionals are gearing up to deal with the sustainability of events.
After restrictions have brought gatherings and travel under the microscope, it’s now time to scrutinise a critical side effect of events and the solutions we need to address it — namely, carbon emissions and carbon pricing.
What is Carbon Pricing?
It’s attaching a price tag to activities that cause greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and billing it to those who are responsible for them.
It means the burden is shifted from the general public to the select few that have a significantly large impact on the environment. It creates a tangible, easy to understand price on GHG emissions that can help the responsible parties analyse whether it’s better to:
- Avoid the price and change their activities, which will lead to fewer emissions, or
- Pay the price and continue their activities, which will lead to funds being invested into research and development for lowering emissions.
This makes it one of the most flexible and cost-effective ways to reduce emissions around the world.
Background to Carbon Pricing
Every year, the Earth sets a new record for the amount of GHGs trapped in its atmosphere, with a larger and larger gap between the current and the previous year. These gasses contribute to a dangerous rise in global temperatures, which brings far-reaching environmental and socioeconomic impacts. Worse still is that the long life of CO2 means that even if we immediately reduce emissions to net-zero, we won’t see temperatures decrease until decades later.
- Most event planners and vendors turn to carbon offsets as a convenient way of staying true to their net-zero commitments. But, as mentioned, prices are going up and we’re starting to see scarcity. Furthermore, carbon offsets don’t encourage long-term changes — you just have an additional line in your list of expenses.
- Carbon pricing is shaping up to be a good alternative, which can motivate event planners to take a look at the carbon cost for every activity involved in event planning (e.g. venues, travel, event communication). However, there is no clear pricing model and organisations need to develop their own approach.
- Greenwashing – this plays a vital part in sustainable strategies for the events industry, it’s when companies pretend activities are more environmentally-friendly than they truly are. For example, claiming a product is 100% recycled material when the real ratio is 10%. Understandably, event planners might think that carbon pricing could be a form of greenwashing. However, it can be a valid strategy to reduce emissions — as long as carbon prices properly reflect high environmental costs and are invested into emission-reducing directives, it can help event planners hold environmentally-friendly events and make responsible long-term changes.
Solutions can look different for various sectors of the events industry, here are just a few of them:
- Event planners can ensure that they work with environmentally-conscious venues and vendors, as well as provide amenities produced with lower emissions (e.g. using a plant-based default option for catering healthcare events and offering meat dishes for an added price).
- Hotels can bill themselves a price calculated based on the carbon footprint per room. They can then invest the funds into renewable energy systems or eco-friendly bikes and shuttles for guests.
- Travel agencies or travel managers can take into account carbon footprints for various flight options and offer incentives for carbon-reducing options.
Here at CODA, sustainability and being a Clean company is at the top of our agenda.
Our processes are built around caring for the planet and being fair and ethical. We’re happy to discuss how we can help to make your next event more sustainable, get in touch.