As you binge watched your favorite TV show last weekend, the carbon footprint of its production was probably the last thing on your mind. However, given the current global climate emergency, it’s no surprise that the environmental impact of our industry is under scrutiny.
The current picture isn’t rosy. According to research by Albert (wearealbert.org), the UK authority on environmental sustainability for film and TV, just one hour of television production contributed the equivalent of 9.2 metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2019.
Before taking steps to reduce their production’s carbon footprint, it’s important for stakeholders to quantify its current environmental impact. This can either be calculated manually, by working with suppliers and contractors, or by using a specialist carbon foot printing tool, like the one developed by Albert.
Environmental quick wins
Moving to remote working wherever possible is the single biggest change productions can make to minimize their environmental impact. Previously prohibitively expensive and complex to implement, remote production setups are now much more common, thanks to accelerated digital transformation caused by the pandemic.
For some parts of our industry, this is easier said than done. News organizations, for instance, tend to have a higher carbon footprint, but they are, in fact, very efficient compared to other productions due to the high volume of programming they produce. But when a news story breaks and crews need to get to the scene to report it, travel is hard to avoid. To offset this, forward-thinking newsrooms are implementing policies to reduce employee travel and hiring local crews when on-location. Switching to renewable energy suppliers and electric vehicles can also have a positive impact.
One company that’s ahead of the sustainability curve is Sky Sports. They were the first broadcaster to set a net-zero target by 2030, and all its original productions have been carbon neutral since 2019. To reach this target, Sky Sports has already eliminated single use plastics and switched from diesel to biofuel generators to power traditional broadcasts. To ensure that sustainability became part of the company’s DNA, employee representatives were elected to champion this cause.
Modeling positive behavior for audiences
As it informs and entertains audiences worldwide, our industry is uniquely positioned to communicate the importance of sustainability. For ideas on how to influence the transition to a sustainable society, creatives can take Albert’s short quiz – “The Planet Test”. Sustainability isn’t just for productions specifically focused on the planet or climate change, it applies to any project – from dramas to panel shows. Our industry wields a lot of influence, so there’s an opportunity for productions to spark a conversation by including storylines related to climate change, or even having characters model positive behaviors like recycling or using public transport.
Looking forward, we can expect 2022 to be our industry’s greenest year yet. But the journey is just beginning. Real, lasting change will require a concerted effort from stakeholders over the next decade and beyond.
Craig Wilson is Product Evangelist at Avid (avid.com).