Live Earth reveals carbon footprints

October 31, 2007

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By Marianne Meadahl

Cities hosting the recent Live Earth concerts to raise awareness of global warming left their own carbon footprints. And Boyd Cohen’s company calculated the impact using a new online tool that promises to help cities walk their talk on climate change.

Cohen, an SFU assistant business professor, is president of Visible Strategies, which developed a software program called see-it that produced score cards detailing the environmental performance of each of the eight participating Live Earth cities. Cohen says Visible Strategies, Live Earth’s only Canadian partner, expects the see-it site to be viewed by millions via Live Earth’s site:

China registered the lowest performance during the concerts, while London generated the highest, according to an analysis of globally collected data presented via the new online tool. The data was collected and analyzed in areas of energy, transportation and waste. Other results include:

  • Audience travel was the prime source of carbon use.
  • Artists traveling to distant locations also resulted in significantly higher carbon use.
  • Tokyo and Johannesburg diverted more than 95 per cent of their waste from entering landfills through efficient recycling and reuse programs.

Cohen says using see-it, each city’s event results can be easily compared against other cities in terms of carbon used and waste generated during the event.

"In terms of reducing the environmental impact of large events, adequate pre-event planning is critical to ensuring high environmental standards are maintained.

"For example, selecting population-dense cities that have exceptional public transportation and easy-to-access music venues is key, because attendees will be able to walk or take transit rather than commute in a non-green way by car or airplane."

Cohen, who is also involved with the creation of SFU’s own sustainability plan, adds that entertainers should be encouraged to further minimize the impact of their own travel.

"If an artist like Madonna is already in London, organizers can reduce travel emissions by arranging for her to perform in London rather than travel a long distance to New York."

Live Earth organizers say the work of the see-it online tool could play a role in helping to implement improved sustainable models for future events, and serve as a template for other global events such as the World Cup and the Olympics. The software is already being used by several North American cities to meet key strategic green goals.

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