Will Music Execs Keep Their New Pledge?

This week, news of the Music Climate Pact dropped. This new pact is really something we’ve seen a lot of before — a suite of net-zero pledges. However, rather than politicians, this time, we’re hearing from music industry giants. This latest climate pledge is coming from music companies like Sony Music Group and Universal Music Group. These two alone own the labels for everyone from Olivia Rodrigo, to Taylor Swift, to Lil Nas X. Sony even owns all the Beatles songs written solely by John Lennon.

Of course, I want to be excited! The music industry, like every industry, will need to see change (ever thought about how much artists have to fly when they’re on tour?) However, the Music Climate Pact is merely the announcing of an intention of joining either the Race to Zero or Science Based Targets Initiative. These both amount to a net-zero by 2050 pledge.

Not too long ago, this kind of move would have been heralded as progress. Of course, we do need to announce and plan our intentions to decarbonize. So, in that sense the Music Climate Pact is exciting. However, we also need to actually decarbonize… now. Pledges across the world have thus far been empty promises. Why should we expect the music industry to be any different?

And even if they do meet their pledge, increasingly, there is a recognition of the flaws behind “net-zero by 2050.” Really we need to be focusing on zero emissions. Net-zero pledges often rely on unproved technology or unjust carbon offset schemes. For a great rundown, check out this article from Fridays for Future, the movement started by Greta Thunberg.

So, while I would love to be excited about the Music Climate Pact, I remain skeptical. However, I think the music industry actually has a bigger role to play. I’m still looking for the perfect soundtrack to the decade of decarbonization, and I hope in 2022, we’ll see artists step into their cultural power to inspire people to climate action. A message with the right melody is a powerful thing.



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