Sustainability Climate Change

Music industry titans put cutthroat competition aside to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050

Sony Music Entertainment CEO Rob Stringer speaks during a Sony press event for CES 2019 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 7, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Justin Sullivan/ Getty

Story at a glance

  • The Music Climate Pact announced this week it had gained the signatures of some of the biggest music industry players.
  • The pact initiates pledges to reduce the music industry’s carbon footprint, caused by artists touring all over the world and drawing thousands of fans to each show.
  • All signatories of the pact will be required to commit to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Some of the music industry’s biggest players have pledged to tackle their carbon footprint by signing on to a climate pact that requires committing to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Launched on Tuesday, the Music Climate Pact announced it had gained the signatures of multiple music businesses and groups, from Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group to independent record labels like Beggars Group, BMG and Brownswood Recordings, among others. 

The pact pledges that by February 2020, signatories will be required to choose between two climate schemes, either the Science Based Targets Initiative or the United Nations-backed Race to Zero SME Climate Commitment

Both schemes require a commitment to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050.


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The Science Based Targets Initiative requires organizations to develop carbon reduction targets that can be achieved five to 10 years from now, with a maximum of 15 years allowed, within 24 months from the date the climate pledge is signed and received. 

The Race to Zero SME Climate Commitment requires carbon neutral targets that can be achieved in the next decade with an actionable plan within 12 months of joining. 

Both schemes require organizations to also publish their climate targets for the public to see as well as continuously provide progress updates and insights.

The Music Climate Pact was initiated by the U.K.’s Association of Independent Music (AIM) as it collaborated with multiple U.K.-based record labels. The pact says it hopes to quickly grow its list of signatories and gain hundreds more by June 2022.

Lou Dickler, Warner Music Group’s chief financial officer, said in a statement, “The scale of the global climate crisis demands that we work together to make real impact. We appointed a dedicated ESG [Environmental, Social & Governance] leader earlier this year, and committed to releasing Warner’s first annual ESG report next year, which will help us hold ourselves accountable and transparently communicate progress to our stakeholders.”

The music industry’s carbon footprint is wide, with artists touring around the country on planes and buses, while fans follow to watch them perform. During concerts, single-use plastics are used heavily for food and drinks and many concert venues utilize high energy sources for stage lighting, acoustics and musical equipment.

In 2019, one of the most well known bands in the world, Coldplay, announced it would not be going on tour because of environmental concerns. The bands’ frontman Chris Martin told BBC News that the band wanted to take some time to find a sustainable and actively beneficial way to tour.

“The hardest thing is the flying side of things. But, for example, our dream is to have a show with no single use plastic, to have it largely solar powered. We’ve done a lot of big tours at this point. How do we turn it around so it’s not so much taking as giving?” said Martin.


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