The British Columbia film industry, a key production hub for Hollywood entertainment, is facing pressure to transition away from diesel generators to power film and food trucks on local sets. Reports indicate that the use of diesel generators is a significant source of carbon emissions, making Vancouver’s film sets a major contributor to air pollution. Suggestions for change include utilizing mobile power alternatives such as sourcing energy directly from the local grid. This shift towards cleaner energy options is crucial for the sustainability of the entertainment industry, which is facing increasing scrutiny for its environmental impact.
The Sustainable Production Alliance (SPA), a group of film, TV, and streaming companies committed to making the entertainment industry more sustainable, has shed light on the carbon emissions produced by film productions. According to their data, each film production emits around 3,370 metric tons (Mt) of CO2, equivalent to over 7 million miles driven by a car. For smaller films, the emissions amount to about 400 Mt. The SPA’s report takes into account various factors contributing to carbon emissions, including flights, housing, fuel, and utilities. The largest contributor to carbon emissions for all film sizes is the fuel used by vehicles and power generators.
The SPA’s recent report, which covers more than 300 films and TV productions in the U.S. and over 60 productions in Canada, provides insights into the carbon footprint of different types of productions. For instance, a 1-hour scripted drama emits 77 Mt of CO2 per episode, while a half-hour scripted single-camera show releases 26 Mt. Unscripted series generate a smaller CO2 footprint per episode, at 13 Mt. The report also highlights the carbon emissions produced by specific filming locations. In Vancouver, the six largest films shot in the city produced over 1,400 Mt of CO2, while medium-sized movies in Atlanta emitted just above 970 Mt of CO2. The difference in emissions between the two locations can be attributed to the energy sources used, with Vancouver having access to cleaner energy options.
To reduce pollution and carbon emissions, producers in Vancouver can tap into cleaner energy sources for local films and TV shows. This includes utilizing zero-emission battery power and local electricity grids. However, compared to other North American filming locations, British Columbia still has relatively high fuel use due to the large sizes and number of power generators used on sets and soundstages. Diesel generators not only contribute to air pollution but also pose health risks, leading to calls for more sustainable practices in the industry. Some productions have already started using solar energy to power generators and have implemented bans on single-use plastics on sets. Other film and TV studios are exploring additional ways to reduce their emissions and the overall carbon footprint of the industry.
In the B.C. film industry, major studios and streamers are being encouraged to accelerate their transition to cleaner energy sources. Similar trends are being observed in Ontario, where Hollywood post-strikes have called for sustainable film productions as the default on sets and soundstages. Hollywood and other producers are also advocating for a more sustainable entertainment industry. For example, Netflix has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 45% below 2019 levels by 2030, employing a three-step approach: Reduce, Retain, and Remove. Disney aims for net zero emissions for its direct operations by 2030, with a focus on investing in natural climate solutions. Sony has committed to eliminating its environmental footprint by 2050, while NBCUniversal aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.
Individual initiatives to promote greener practices in the industry include the use of fully recyclable sets made from waste materials, reducing the reliance on traditional materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Additionally, studios are partnering with green organizations such as Earth Angel and The Green Production Guide to learn and adopt sustainable filming practices.
By transitioning away from diesel generators and embracing cleaner energy options, the entertainment industry is demonstrating its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and promoting sustainable filming practices. With the support of major studios, streamers, and industry organizations, this move towards sustainability in film production sets a precedent for the entire industry.