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Actors’ action

25 August, 2023

Does it come as a surprise to you that the film industry and its stars produce a staggering amount of CO2? Jet-setting, luxury cars, energy use and film set waste all contribute to the carbon footprints of your favourite films and features.

One hundred prominent actors, including Dame Harriet Walter, Sir Mark Rylance and Bill Nighy, have set out to address this, signing an open letter calling for their peers to rein in their carbon-intensive contractual requirements.

The letter acknowledges the environmental impact of the industry and encouragers actors to “take necessary steps to reduce emissions and restore health to ecosystems that support life on earth”, by negotiating bolder sustainability standards in their contracts (a so-called “Green Rider”), from opting for train travel instead of jet to recycling sets and costumes.

Great sentiments, but in our view, the call to action will only move beyond high-minded but meaningless gestures if it is part of a more thoughtful approach to carbon reduction that really does target the areas where carbon arises. An actor who asks for a second-hand costumer and no cut flowers in their dressing room but continues to fly first class when traveling for non-work-related reasons is not only missing the real impact of their behaviour but also risks (at best) being called out for green washing and (at worst) labelled a hypocrite.

Knowing where your own personal sources of emissions come from, and where there is the greatest scope to make reductions, should be a first step. We have partnered with a family office to help its clients do just that, measuring individuals’ personal carbon footprints, setting goals and reduction targets for them, and then helping them achieve reductions by laying a foundation for informed decision-making and targeted actions. You manage what you measure, and if you don’t know where your carbon emissions are occurring you can’t expect to take the bold and ambitious measures that the 100 thespians aspire to achieve.

The actors’ open letter serves as a fresh reminder that intentions are not enough. Concrete carbon reduction is vital, and that is achieved through year-on-year carbon footprint measurement and target-setting. Get in touch if you need support!

By Bertie Bateman

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