Ambitious roadmap proposed for events sector ‘carbon target’

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An ‘ambitious’ roadmap to create a carbon reduction target for the business events sector was discussed at an industry roundtable last Friday  - with all eyes on COP26 for the big launch.

UK-based Positive Impact Events are hoping to raise £30,000 to drive the project, which would be delivered under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Other sectors - like sport and fashion - have already committed to UN-backed sectoral carbon targets to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees.

The aim would be for the UK events sector to create a template for carbon reduction, ahead of COP26 in Glasgow in November, that could be copied by event professionals worldwide.

Positive Impact CEO Fiona Pelham said a target for events was ‘an idea whose time had come’.

She said: “The compelling future is the potential for the UK Prime Minister to stand up at the COP conference and announce that the UK has taken a sector devastated by Covid-19 and built it back better, that the UK is a place to bring your events to because we can deliver them in a sustainable way, that the UK now has skills in sustainability that can be exported, and the UK events sector has a carbon target and reduction plan that other countries can now join.”

She added: “There is a gap in the fact that the events sector will be involved in the logistics to make sure this incredibly important event on sustainability  (COP 26) can take place, but the sector itself is not currently engaged in the solutions that are being discussed.”

Miguel Naranjo, programme officer at UNFCCC, described how a carbon target and framework could be created for the events sector – and said COP26 was the incentive to ‘do it now’.

He said, with Positive Impact acting as secretariat, an ‘ambitious timeline’ could see the framework being completed in four months and presented at COP26. Businesses in the sector would join the framework as ‘members’ and have ‘a voice and a vote’ in shaping it.

He said: “It is voluntary and collaborative – but it needs to be ambitious: net-zero by 2050 is the basis. And it needs to be transparent, so everyone outside the sector can see what we are doing.”

Theresa Villiers, chair of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for Events, said the ‘top priority’ was to find a way to get the sector – devastated by Covid-19 – open again, but that it was ‘striking’ that public interest in ‘environmental matters’ had been ‘undimmed’ by the pandemic.

She said: “The events sector has a central role because international action on climate change and all environmental issues has been pushed forward by a series of major conferences, without these big, global gatherings, there would be no chance of driving the change need from government and businesses and individual around the world. The climate debate is a perfect illustration of the role events play in spreading knowledge, ideas, skills and best practice across borders.”

Simon Evans, director at EcoBooth, said: “We’re hugely in support of any initiatives like this for two key reasons: the critical and environmental need for it and the environmental benefits that would come from it. And secondly, this is a global issue and any government or sector that acts on this now is going to be leading on it, so there is obviously a competitive advantage for the events sector in the UK getting this right. We’ve seen the events sector grappling with it over the years, but it’s not enough: it’s not quick enough and the UNFCC sector framework could galvanise that small momentum and turn it into something much more significant.”

Positive Impact Events said £30,000 was needed to carry out crucial market research and a marketing campaign to maximise support across the sector for the initiative.

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Holly Patrick
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Holly Patrick
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A desire to travel led Holly Patrick to the business meetings and events world and she’s never looked back. Holly takes a particular interest in event sustainability and creating a diverse and inclusive industry. When she’s not working, she can be found rolling skating along Brighton seafront listening to an eclectic playlist, featuring the likes of Patti Smith, Sean Paul, and Arooj Aftab.

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