How green are Edmonton’s festivals? (Blog Action Day 2009)

Today is Blog Action Day, which means that bloggers around the world are writing about the same issue – climate change. The purpose of the initiative is to create a discussion. For my post, I’m hoping to stimulate a little discussion about how “green” Edmonton’s festivals are.

I first wrote about this topic back in December, when I noted a number of the changes BrightNights had made to become more environmentally friendly:

The City of Edmonton hopes to have a number of events operating green within three years, and BrightNights is just the first. I hope more festivals and events in Edmonton follow suit.

One of the big local stories this week is that BrightNights will no longer be taking place due to rising costs. I’m not at all sad to see the event go (the food bank and hot lunch program will be impacted in the short-term but will be fine I think). Even if they managed to make the event carbon-neutral (primarily by purchasing carbon credits, it should be noted) it still encouraged people to sit in a running car for an who knows how long. That’s not very green!

What about the rest of Edmonton’s festivals? What are they doing to be more environmentally friendly? If you have any links or other information, please post them in the comments!

As Canada’s Festival City, I think we have an opportunity (maybe even a responsibility) to lead the way in ensuring our events are green and sustainable. Let’s set the bar high and encourage others to follow suit!

Upcoming Climate Change Events

October 24th is the International Day of Climate Action. People all over the world are holding events pledging action on the science of 350:

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

We’re currently at 387 parts per million, and rising (check out the Pew Center’s Global Warming Facts & Figures for more). There are six actions listed for Edmonton so far.

Of course, the main event this year is the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15), which takes place from December 7th to 18th in Copenhagen.

Edmonton’s BrightNights goes green

Holiday Light Up!Ever since the BrightNights festival opened for the year on November 22nd in Hawrelak Park, I’ve been meaning to write about it. Not because I love it and am keen to promote it, but for quite the opposite reason actually. I attended back in 2006, and came away unimpressed. I’ve got two major issues with the event – it’s relatively expensive and it’s terrible for the environment. Or at least it was.

This year, the organizers went with a “green theme” to make the 2008 edition of the festival the most environmentally friendly ever (didn’t you know green is the new black!). I noticed a video on the site recently talking about the improvements and changes (unfortunately they don’t use permalinks so I can’t link to the video) and took some notes:

  • BrightNights is operated as a not-for-profit.
  • The drive-through lights display runs from November 21st until January 4th, and covers 2.5 km of road.
  • Food Bank donations are encouraged, and any extra funds go to the hot lunch program.
  • The goal this year is to be carbon neutral. They’ve purchased carbon credits to offset emissions from both the power used in the park and from vehicles driving through.
  • All the lights are on timers this year, to avoid human error of forgetting to shut them off. Also, the hours of operation have been reduced from 6 per day to 5.
  • Enmax has joined as a sponsor for three years, and is working to ensure energy consumption is powered by wind.

The website also mentions high-efficiency lighting and certified forestry managed paper for marketing materials. Additionally, BrightNights has teamed up with Climate Change Central to help educate Edmontonians about going green at home.

Apparently the cost has gone up from $15 per vehicle to $20, so the event hasn’t become any more affordable. I’m not sure what kinds of displays they have, but I suspect it is similar to previous years.

Even though I’m still not that excited about BrightNights, I am quite happy to see the changes they’ve made to become more environmentally friendly. The City of Edmonton hopes to have a number of events operating green within three years, and BrightNights is just the first. I hope more festivals and events in Edmonton follow suit.