Music Declares Emergency: A Call for Action on Climate Change

The situation on climate change and biodiversity is critical. After the publication of last year’s IPCCs Special Report, the need for urgent action has become even more apparent, and has encouraged many companies and independent organisations to reinvigorate the conversation within their communities.

Across the UK, festivals, venues and record shops have started to introduce green initiatives; for example up in Leeds, Norman Records have created a free vinyl-disposal service, while in the capital, Oval Space have just announced their Oval Green initiative, beginning with eradicating single-use plastic cups, bottles and wristbands from their clubs.

London-based charity Julie’s Bicycle are helping to spread awareness and steer these conversations within creative communities. They aim to support individuals and organisations to take action on climate change and environmental sustainability and encourage them to use both their platform and networks to influence one another and their wider audience.

They’ve teamed up with councils, universities and sectors to launch a campaign called Music Declares Emergency to spread the word within the music industry and call on the government to take immediate action. We sat down with Alison Tickell, the charity’s Director, to find how this campaign will help to drive positive change.

Head to Music Declares to join the campaign. For more reading on sustainability in music, check our article picking apart the carbon footprint of the dance music economy. For some topical listening, scroll through our 2018 Advent Calendar, in support of Julie’s Bicycle.

Why do you feel the music industry should declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency?

Simply, because it is one. Up until recently only a small minority of people who had connected with climate change used terms like climate crisis/chaos/breakdown. But since the publication of the IPCCs Special Report on climate change last October, which was an unequivocal call to action, a much more urgent – and accurate – vocabulary is reinvigorating a public response. Music was the first creative industry to collaborate at scale on climate action, setting up JB almost 13 years ago. Everyone loves music. Getting the industry green and supporting artists voices and actions could be an exponentially powerful driver of positive change.

Why now to make the declaration?

Students are on the streets, XR is everywhere, pledges and promises are being made by all sorts of groups, so what better time than now? But we need to make it substantial by changing how we work and calling on government to be ambitious.

Extinction Rebellion has recently proved how an ecological call to action can have far-reaching international impact. Why should people in the music industry sign-up to Music Declares if they’re already involved in XR and other initiatives?

XR and MDE are not mutually exclusive! In fact MDE came together as a result of JB calling for a declaration at the same time as XR music was – so, sensibly, we combined forces. It is really important to focus on the purpose, not brand climate change/brand XR/brand JB. MDE is a commitment to the declaration of a climate and ecological emergency and coming together as an industry to take positive action whatever that action might be. I fear that if we choose between one thing or another we risk creating unnecessary oppositions. We haven’t got time for that. It’s unhelpful.

Is this just limited to music industry professionals? Can anyone engaged in music – from streaming music, buying records to going to festivals – get involved in Music Declares?

It is primarily for people already in the industry, but we hope that it will inspire music lovers to do something and support those already committed to positive action. This very significant industry that brings so much to this country is also appealing directly to government to rapidly put in place the infrastructure – policy, investment, leadership – to meet the climate and ecological crisis head on. To fail is unconscionable.

After the declaration, what are the next steps for the Music Declares Emergency group?

We are busy raising funds to support events, campaigns and research – and continuing to build the community of declares. If anyone wants to join us – and support us – here are the details.

If you’re a business, artist or professional in the music industry feeling a bit lost about how to engage in more ecological practices, can you recommend any first steps [resources, initiatives, anything else]?

Check out the website or give us a call.

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