The Impact of Touring DJs on Climate Change

Over a year has passed since we could dance freely in clubs, bodies pressed together wall to wall in venues of all sizes, partying long into the night without a care. With vaccinations rolling out and a new era of hope dawning, it is time to address what a post-covid dance music world looks like.

A recent report published by Clean Scene, a self-described climate action collective dedicated to exploring alternative futures for the dance music community, has revealed the extensive impact that touring DJs have on the environment.

The statistics are staggering, highlighted by the report which is cleverly titled ‘Last Night a DJ Took a Flight’. An analysis of the carbon footprint of Resident Advisor’s top 1000 DJs touring in 2019 showed that collectively, 35,000,000 kg of CO2 was spewed into the air as a result of the 51,000 flights taken by these individuals. 

To further quantify, this is equivalent to providing 20,000 households with electricity for one year.

There’s a huge disparity, as mentioned in the report, between the average person’s carbon budget per year, and that of the average touring DJ – a whole 33 tonnes. As an industry, we are harming the environment, but we have the chance to make change as we gear up to get back to what we love. 

Below is a brief summary of the recommendations outlined by Clean Scene, with the objective of working toward a greener, cleaner future within the industry and in the broader sense.

  • Climate justice and racial justice go hand in hand, so promoters should actively book BIPOC artists whose communities suffer greatly as a result of environmental damage.
  • Organisations should be accountable and commit publicly to reducing their carbon footprint, whether that be by booking fewer international artists or taking less flights.
  • Local industry talent should be celebrated and uplifted rather than defaulting to international touring DJs.
  • Promoters and agents should consider if exclusivity is really necessary, and allow artists to return to perform in the same cities.
  • Tour routes should be planned more efficiently.
  • Those within the industry should seek to collaborate with like minded peers to start the movement.

As with all systemic change, the whole industry needs to undergo a seismic shift so the effects can trickle down, but as individuals we still have a part to play. By continuing the conversation, educating ourselves, and committing to reducing our personal carbon footprints, we can be part of the solution too.

Header Image: Matt Cardy / Getty Images

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