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Going greener: 3 key areas where public broadcasters are reducing their carbon footprint

20 March 2023
Train in the Swiss countryside

How can the audiovisual sector become greener? The ecological impact is huge: from power consumption to generators, cameras, trucks, special effects, transport and catering for crews, storage and recycling of sets, waste treatment, and even the cost of streaming.

Public service media are highly regarded and respected by European citizens – in fact, public broadcasters are the most trusted source of news in 28 of 31 European countries[1]. As part of being interwoven into people’s daily lives, public service media need to educate and inform audiences about climate change – and set the example by being sustainable organizations.

Scroll down for three areas where public service media are focusing their sustainability efforts.

Net-zero Strategy

Many of our Members are moving towards an organizational net zero strategy, such as the BBC and ITV in the UK. Net zero refers to a state in which the greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere are balanced by their removal out of the atmosphere.

To achieve net zero, organizations don’t just need a strategic shift, they need cultural change; meaning everyone’s role will have a sustainability element. This can mean anything from the technology to understand the energy used for software or hardware to local and seasonal foods in the canteen, and more. Top figures in public service media are now looking at sustainability as part of their wider decision-making processes. Sustainability is guiding the conversation.

Green Productions

Even small changes in production can have a ripple effect. For example, using durable, recyclable materials for sets cuts down on waste. Flat-pack items also reduce transport, eliminating the need for large lorries to travel long distances.

Using virtual productions reduces travel, which in content making can be the largest footprint. Virtual productions allow all the locations to come to one place without the need to take flights to multiple locations.

Some of our Members work with Ecoprod – a French based collective with partnerships across Europe. Their goal is to enhance sustainable productions, such as reducing the ecological footprint of films – taking into account a wide range of ecological aspects (waste, greenhouse gas, resources, wildlife protection, and more). Ecoprod aims to ensure the mobilization of audio-visual professionals by informing them and providing them with free tools such as fact sheets, guides, and a carbon calculator.

albert is an industry-backed project bringing the screen industries together to tackle their environmental impact and to inspire sustainable living. At the moment, there is an albert sustainable production certification which only applies to the UK, but they are working on having certification options for each country that they partner with.

In Germany, our Members BR, WDR, SWR and RBB keep track of their carbon footprint with KlimAktiv, a carbon calculator for productions and films in conjunction with the German sustainable production guidelines.

Our Belgian Member VRT has turned to the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), a public funding body that promotes sustainable audiovisual production. VAF has created the eMission label, which it awards to sustainable productions, and the fund is also member of the Green Screen project.

(Read more about green production initiatives here.)

At our upcoming Sustainability Summit on 4 April, we have a full session dedicated entirely to green sets. The UK’s ITV will present a virtual production case study, the BBC will talk about decarbonisation, and we’ll have a panel discussion with green consultants. Register now.

Greener Travel

Seemingly simple changes in travel habits can have a lasting impact, too. Our public service media Members are reducing travel, such as banning internal flights in favour of trains. Broadcasters are sending fewer staff members to events and using local support staff where possible. If their staff have to travel by air they will go for longer periods to maximise productivity. Broadcasters are also making efforts to choose greener accommodation on-site too.

Some music orchestras are experimenting with having musicians leave their own instruments at home and renting instruments on location. In addition, they are trying to stay on location for longer periods, such as in conjunction with the concert, lecturing or giving workshops with local students. There are many initiatives to test this new way of working.

Sustainability Summit 2023 (4 April)

Join us at our annual online event on all things broadcast sustainability. The full day programme provides insights in areas such as production and technology.

Learn what broadcasters are doing during this disruptive period, how to reduce travel emissions on productions, why streaming greener is important, and much more. You’ll hear from EBU Members and industry specialists in a mix of discussions and presentations.

Register today and join from anywhere. And if you can’t attend live, you’ll be able to watch on-demand later with your registration credentials. Register now.


[1] EBU based on Standard Eurobarometer 96, Flash Eurobarometer: News & Media Survey 2022 & Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2022. EBU Media Service Intelligence 2022

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Written by

Hemini Mehta

Operations Manager

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