Tomorrowland is a climate change nightmare

Tomorrowland is a climate change nightmare
Credit: Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland, the internationally-renowned festival is responsible for the emission of almost 150,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent according to new research, RTBF reports.

Tapio, a company specialising in calculating carbon footprints, has conducted a study to assess the impact of Tomorrowland's carbon strategy.

Welcoming over 400,000 festival-goers from 200 countries this weekend, Tomorrowland is one of the biggest festivals in the world. Over the course of the festival, 750 different artists will be spread over 16 stages and 34 hectares, or 63 football pitches.

The festival has an international appeal and expressly reserves 50% of its tickets for non-Belgians. It is company policy to attract festival-goers from abroad, offering many "packages" which include the festival, accommodation and a means of transport, whether by train, bus or plane.

Credit: Tomorrowland

The 'Global Journey Package' has been the most successful. According to Tomorrowland, over 10,570 tickets which include festival access and combined plane tickets have been sold in recent months.

Air travel accounts for most emissions

The organisers have also indicated that 125 flights are being organised jointly by the festival and Brussels Airlines.

Tomorrowland also details that these travellers arriving by plane in Belgium come from 57 different cities. Of the 10,570 festival-goers who have travelled or will be travelling by air, 17.6% are Spanish, 7.9% Swiss, 4.3% British, 4% Americans and 3.8% Norwegians.

However, these 10,500 festival-goers are not the only ones to come by plane. A sizeable proportion of the 200,000 international visitors also chose to travel by plane, organising it themselves without any involvement from the festival.

Credit: Tomorrowland

The company has broken down the carbon footprint into four chapters: energy consumption linked to the festival, mobility of festival-goers, employees and artists, products and services sold on site and waste treatment.

The study found that mobility is the biggest contributor the high emissions: 72% of emissions were linked to air travel by festival-goers, which includes 100,000 Europeans and 40,000 non-Europeans who travelled to the festival by plane. Though they are a minority of the total number of participants, these 140,000 festival-goers accounted for 72% of the festival's carbon footprint, even before they had eaten or consumed anything.

What does the figure equate to?

In total, 149,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent were released into the atmosphere. According to Tapio, their rather conservative estimates mean that there is a wide margin of error. "The real carbon footprint is perhaps 50,000 tonnes less, but more likely 100,000 or 150,000 tonnes more," CEO Louis Collinet told RTBF.

According to the company's calculations, the total of 149,000 tonnes of CO2 represents the annual emissions of 9,300 Belgian households, or 8 times more than what the Forêt de Soignes can absorb in carbon over the course of one year. Furthermore, the figures represent 2.5% of the CO2 reduction effort required by Belgium.

Tomorrowland said that the festivals carbon footprint was "very difficult to calculate". However, festival spokesperson Debby Wilmsen told RTBF that the festival was planning to have its carbon footprint calculated for the 2023 edition by an external consultant.

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