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Event Industry Trends – Sustainability and Decarbonisation

Sustainability and decarbonisation are becoming increasingly important in the event industry. Event organisers not only have a moral responsibility to minimise the environmental impact of their events but must also consider financial safeguards such as event cancellation insurance to manage the economic risks associated with unforeseen disruptions.  Attendees are becoming more environmentally conscious and expect events to reflect their values. In this blog post, we will discuss the industry trend of sustainability and decarbonisation, including defining the sub-topics of scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3 emissions, and discussing the decarbonising of event electrical supplies, participant transport, supplier/contractor transport. We also touch upon the value of virtual events in reducing your carbon footprint.


July 4, 2024

Scope 1 emissions refer to the direct carbon pollution from sources that are owned or controlled by the event organiser, such as generators, heating systems, and vehicles. Scope 2 emissions refer to the indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity. Scope 3 emissions refer to all other indirect emissions that are not included in scope 2, such as transportation of attendees, food production, and waste disposal.


Scope 1 emissions are within the direct control of event organisers – so it’s a good idea to consider how you can reduce these. At most events, the majority of Scope 1 emissions will be produced by generating electrical power. The first step is to identify where traditional diesel generators can be eliminated. Start by determining whether new connections to the mains grid can be installed at your site; this process can sometimes be costly and time consuming, but in the long run can present a substantial carbon saving. Following this, consider whether any parts of your event can be powered by solar & battery technology. This tech is fairly new, and can only provide modest amounts of power – but every little helps! Where you have no choice but to continue using conventional generators, make sure these are as efficient as possible. In the UK, you should explore using Stage IV compliant generators – which meet strict emissions standards. Consider using lower-carbon fuels such as HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil AKA Biodiesel), but bear in mind this can sometimes be harder to get hold of. Whilst reducing your Scope 1 emissions can be a daunting task, putting these measures in place will eventually pay dividends – not only in carbon reduction, but also a substantial reduction in the cost of diesel. Even if your event is mostly reliant on conventional generators, making one or two changes to start with is a good point from which to start building a low-carbon event.


Scope 2 emissions are less controllable then Scope 1 emissions. Moreover, they are only really relevant if your event venue already has a mains grid power connection – for example a conference centre, exhibition hall, or music venue. In these cases, you should ask the venue owner about their electricity supplier; are they on a “green” electricity tariff? If the answer is yes, then most of the work is done. Many venues will be on a standard electricity tariff – but it never hurts to start the conversation about switching to a green energy supplier.


Scope 3 emissions represent a big challenge to event organisers, as they are often outside of their control – and take careful planning to reduce. The biggest sources of Scope 3 emissions at events are attendee transport, supply chain transport, and waste disposal. Reducing emissions from attendee transport is often about incentive; if you offer attractive alternatives to arriving by car, and incentivise these with discounts or giveaways, you will encourage attendees to reduce their carbon footprint (and yours). Supply chain transport emissions can be reduced by using local suppliers where possible, as this will mean fewer road-miles travelled by the suppliers’ vans and trucks. The impact of waste management on carbon emissions is worthy of it’s own blog post – so check it out.


Finally, event organisers should consider the possibility of hosting an event virtually – whether this be entirely online, or partly online (hybrid). Whilst most events are about shared in-person experiences, it’s worth thinking about which types of event would make sense to hold online. A conference event organiser with delegates from across the world would achieve a substantial carbon emission reduction by moving to a virtual format. Even if your conference takes place in a venue – you could consider a hybrid format where attendees from further afield attend virtually – this might also change the event insurance requirements. Technology for these types of events came on leaps and bounds during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it looks like virtual and hybrid events are here to stay.


In conclusion, the trend towards sustainability and decarbonisation in the event industry is important for both environmental and social responsibility reasons. Event organisers have a responsibility to minimise the environmental impact of their events, and attendees are becoming more environmentally conscious and expect events to reflect their values. Additionally, ensuring comprehensive insurance cover at festivals is crucial for addressing the financial risks associated with potential environmental liabilities and other unexpected challenges.  By reducing scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3 emissions and considering virtual events, event organisers can reduce their carbon footprint and in many cases reduce their costs. The trend towards sustainability and decarbonisation is not only good for the environment, but also for the reputation of event organisers, and can attract environmentally conscious attendees and sponsors.


Hear about real life stories of organising events, the required insurance for events, the times when things have gone wrong and the behind the scenes madness that every event organiser will relate to, on Freddie’s podcast, WHEN SH*T GOES WRONG AT EVENTS.

Insurance in minutes!