More and more events are embracing environmental-friendly practices in a bid to reduce carbon emissions
Following the recently concluded carbon neutral global events like FIFA World Cup in Qatar and COP27 in Egypt, the 17th edition of the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) convention, which opened in Indore today, and subsequent two-day Global Investors Summit are also touted to be carbon neutral events. Both the events are to be supported by renewable energy and vehicles run on gas or electricity. An attempt is underway to make them zero waste events to curb carbon dioxide emissions.
While their claims would be validated after the events are over, Indian weddings, too, are increasingly claiming to go green. Climatefactchecks.org states that a carbon neutral wedding can help reduce carbon footprint equivalent to cutting 100 odd trees. They further suggest daytime weddings to save energy by facilitating photography with less energy, using seasonal and locally grown flowers as importing flowers leads to more fuel consumption, serving locally sourced food to cut food miles, and exchanging carbon neutral gifts.
Parthip Thyagarajan, founder and CEO, WeddingSutra, India’s first wedding portal, says, “Many millennium couples look forward to having a green wedding. There is a general kind of awareness to embrace environment friendly practices.” He adds, “An interesting trend, especially in Bangalore, which is having a couple of waste management companies, is to avoid plastics and there is a lot of sensitivity towards animals. So a horse ride, as part of the wedding procession, is not common anymore. Some couples also opt for vegetarian meals. It is not very common yet.”
At the same time, he points out, “Some factors prove a hindrance. For example, using flowers is part of our tradition and it is difficult to do all the functions without flowers. So, probably going green for one of the functions should be explored. Silk, too, is part of our tradition.”
Anirudh Gupta, co- founder of Climes, a climate tech company, offers his mantra: “Cut the emissions you can, neutralise what you can’t.” Calculation of carbon emissions for offsetting is a complex exercise. He says, “In the case of events, there are many elements coming together ranging from food, accommodation, venue, travel to energy consumption. It is the cumulative figure of all these elements, which would determine the additional cost. While some events of our clients have as low as 800 Kg of emissions, others have 2,40,000 Kg of it.”
Gupta elaborates, “We calculate carbon footprint based on the type of event, number of people attending, % of people flying in, % of people staying at a hotel, local transportation, food consumed, and energy consumption at the venue. With this cumulative number we offer a per attendee carbon footprint (and footprint of the entire event). He adds, “After the calculation, the organisers can choose to buy carbon credits in the form of Climes credits. People get to exercise their choice about where the money held in their Climes credits gets allocated. For example, carbon mitigation projects around India can be financed by event organisers.”
Globally, carbon neutral events regime is evolving fast. The Net Zero Carbon Events roadmap launched at COP27 elaborates on action areas for decarbonisation like energy, production and waste, food and food waste, freight and logistics and travel. It built on the Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge, which was launched at COP26, Scotland, with support from United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). More than 100 signatories had pledged to lead the events industry towards net zero by 2050.
At the same time, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has also come up with ISO 20121, which lays down the requirements for event sustainability management; ISO 14001, which deals with the environment management system; and ISO 20400, which deals with sustainable procurement system and is aligned with UN’s Sustainable Development Goals SDGs. It is a matter of time before Indian events industry is on the same page as the global Net Zero Carbon Events regime.