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Edinburgh Festival to tackle climate change by asking visitors not to fly

Spectators encouraged to watch events online

Helen Coffey
Thursday 14 October 2021 11:14 BST
An entertainer performs on the Royal Mile in the Scottish capital
An entertainer performs on the Royal Mile in the Scottish capital (Getty)

Edinburgh Festival organisers have announced they will be encouraging visitors not to fly and to attend events online rather than in person.

The new action plan, drawn up in response to the climate emergency, outlines proposals including asking attendees to swap flights for more eco forms of transport and suggesting performers stay in the city for longer.

Artists and performers travelling from Western Europe will also be encouraged to go flight-free where possible.

The organisers want to create zero-carbon venues, cut down on paper and packaging, include more vegetarian and vegan dining options and introduce a reusable cup scheme.

Themes of sustainability will also be more broadly represented during the Edinburgh International Festival, plus the city’s Fringe, Hogmanay, storytelling, jazz, science, book, film and visual art festivals.

“The work outlined today builds on the festival’s long term commitment to minimising our environmental impact, as seen through the earlier creation of a green venue guide and our role in founding Creative Carbon Scotland, in conjunction with the Federation of Scottish Theatre and the Scottish Contemporary Art Network,” said Festivals Edinburgh chair Sorcha Carey.

“Our actions, at both a collective and individual festival level, are aimed at helping Edinburgh achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and thus address one of the most important issues of our time.”

It comes ahead of Glasgow hosting COP26 from the end of this month.

Edinburgh Festival’s action plan reads: ”The global response to climate change means it is essential for festivals to evolve their current form of operating.

“Public opinion and behaviour is also shifting quickly, with young people citing climate change as the most important issue of our time, 70 per cent of people in Scotland desiring stronger action on climate, and environmental action becoming increasingly important to festivalgoers.

”If our festivals are to flourish in a net-zero carbon future, we need to find innovative, sustainable ways of operating and fulfilling the function of festivals, providing time and space for people to exchange ideas and celebrate our common humanity.”

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