Melissa Bradshaw

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment fights climate crisis with refusal to tour by plane

10:45, 14th February 2020

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) have announced that they will travel by train, rather than plane, for their upcoming tour to Poland and Hungary as part of their commitment to becoming carbon neutral.

Orchestral touring is the most significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the sector, with aviation contributing to 2% of the world’s global carbon emissions. By choosing to travel by train, the OAE will reduce their CO2e impact by over 15,000 metric tonnes.

‘I am very proud to be part of an organisation that is prepared to hold its hands up, come clean and account responsibly for the impact of its activity,’ says OAE chief executive Crispin Woodhead. ‘We have undertaken a thorough analysis of our carbon impact in the current 19-20 season and we are determined to make positive changes. It’s a case of actions speaking louder than words.’

The decision to travel by train will make the OAE’s trip less convenient and more expensive, with the journey time to Budapest increasing from 2.5 hours by plane to 24 hours each way. However, despite the inconvenience and financial implications (the journey will cause the budget to crash into deficit) the OAE voted among themselves to take this step in order to reduce impact wherever possible.

OAE leader Margaret Faultless said: ‘The OAE players on this trip have all signed up to this revolutionary shift in touring. It had to happen, but it’s not easy. The climate emergency requires action alongside conversation, and we are all really proud that the OAE management and board supported the players’ request to DO something in support of greener, more sustainable touring.’

Zen Grisdale, the OAE’s videographer, will film the journey in order to capture and share the true extent an orchestra must go to in order to be green. ‘We have a wide reach with our videos – some have over 2 million views,’ Grisdale comments. ‘If 2 million people see this film and are encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint, even by a little bit, then just think what the impact could be.’

The OAE will tour to the Filharmonia Szczecin in Poland on 21 February and the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall in Hungary on 28 February.


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