Canadian Musician - January/February 2023 | Page 9



By Kim Fry


great song can be a call to action and a catalyst for change . That has been true for hundreds of years , as the power of music was seen in the civil rights movement , the women ’ s rights movement , in LG- BTQ struggles , and in the early days of the environmental movement . This is probably one of the reasons that dictatorships and fascist regimes are so quick to jail politicallyactive musicians . Music is powerful because it touches people ’ s hearts and changes them forever . This is why , for those of us involved with the international project “ Music Declares Emergency ,” connecting music with climate advocacy is so important .
The climate emergency is real . Recordbreaking floods in Pakistan have killed over 1,600 people and 800,000 livestock . Hundreds of bridges collapsed , thousands of kilometres of roads were destroyed , and 18,000 schools were flooded . The climate emergency isn ’ t happening in some far distant future . It is here now . We see its impacts in Canada with devastating flooding on our coasts , increased forest fires , heat domes , and melting of permafrost in the far north .
In August 2021 , the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC ) reported that greenhouse gasses from human activities had caused approximately 1.1 ° C of global warming by 2010-19 compared to 1850-1900 , and that global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5 ° C of warming over the next 20 years . This led the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres to call the report a “ code red ” for humanity .
It is because of this code red for humanity that Music Declares Emergency Canada decided it was crucial to initiate the first-ever Canadian Music Climate Summit and teamed up with the CLMA ( Canadian Live Music Association ) to have a daylong gathering of climate presentations and conversations in order to share knowledge , tools , and resources to help the music industry rebuild from COVID-19 with climate at the forefront . We knew that the work we do around the world needed to find a place in Canada and the IPCC report combined with last year ’ s launch of The Global Music Climate Pact ( www . musicclimatepact . com / the-pact ) provided the momentum to make the Summit happen and get the right people into the room .
Music Declares Emergency ( MDE ) is a group of artists , music industry professionals , organizations , and music fans that stand together to declare a climate and ecological emergency . We believe in the power of music , musicians , and music businesses . Through their unique cultural and economic power , we believe they can lead the way in demanding the systemic changes required to secure all life on earth . We encourage you to read and sign the declaration and commitments at Musicdeclares . net / ca / en /.
The inaugural Canadian Music Climate Summit took place in Toronto in late October 2022 and featured keynote speakers , including David Suzuki , panels and workshops that explored what climate change means for the music industry . Speakers considered how record labels , the live music community , manufacturers , distributors , retailers , and artists can play a part in continuing to green the music business and use the power of the sector to encourage action from fans . Following the summit , we held a showcase / concert .
Several speakers and panelists highlighted the urgency of the climate crisis and spoke in more general terms about the potential of musicians to rally their audiences and to create the change needed to move to a post-carbon economy . David Suzuki talked about how “ We need to make the switch from [ the ] consumers to the restorers of nature ’ s generosity ,” and highlighted the importance of demanding structural changes in government policy as well as standards within the music industry . Other panelists highlighted more specific actions .
The Live Music and Green Touring Panel featured Marie Zimmerman from Guelph ’ s Hillside Festival discussing the concrete steps they have taken over the years to become carbon neutral and very specific choices the festival has made . This included hiring Ian Garrett from the Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts ( CSPA ) to look at the carbon footprint of the festival and help them to make changes to become carbon neutral
( which the festival accomplished in 2019 ). She spoke about , and Devon Hardy from the CSPA and Creative Green Tools Canada also highlighted , the need to address audience travel because it is the biggest source of emissions within the live music sector .
The panel that focused on record labels and merch featured Ben Swanson from the influential Secretly Group ( parent group to labels such as Dead Oceans , Secretly Canadian and Jagjaguwar and a key signatory to the Global Music Climate Pact ) and Kelly Drennan from Fashion Takes Action , who showed the horrifying human rights and ecological impacts of fast fashion . Both offered concrete steps and encouraged summit attendees to start moving in the right direction even if it is small steps at first .
The Music Climate Summit was conceived to help support the music sector in understanding the severity of the climate crisis and become inspired to act . Music Declares Emergency exists to help the music industry rise to the challenge of the climate crisis and we are ready , willing and increasingly able to help move things in the right direction . We want to help the music industry use its enormous cultural influence to be a force for good on climate and the environment and there will be much more to come , so sign the declaration and stay tuned !
Kim Fry is an organizer of Music Declares Emergency Canada . Music Declares Emergency ( MDE ) is an independent global group , created by artists , music industry professionals and organizations concerned at the lack of a cohesive , industry-wide response to the climate emergency . www . musicdeclares . net / ca / en /.