In various countries and regions in Europe as well as in North America, different carbon calculators are used to work out the carbon footprint. In the bachelor thesis Opportunities and limitations of carbon calculators on the road to sustainable film and television productions, Martin Jetter, graduate of the Hochschule der Medien Stuttgart, examined five carbon calculators with regard to their structure and methodology.
In the US, film productions work with the carbon calculator PEAR (Production Environmental Acounting Report), which is offered by PGA Green and the Sustainable Production Alliance (SPA). In France, producers measure the carbon footprint with the Carbon’ Clap, which was developed by Ecoprod. The Vlams Audiovisuel Fonds (VAF) in the Belgian region Flanders provides filmmakers with E-Mission. In the United Kingdom the BAFTA-led albert consortium offers the Albert carbon calculator. In Germany, theMFG film fund in Baden-Würtemberg commissioned KlimAktiv to create a carbon calculator for film and TV productions.
„When examining th five calculators, it can be seen that they have clearly different focuses", states Jetter, who highlighted unique features as well as the weak points in the comparison of the carbon calculators. „Certain areas remain completely unnoticed in some calculators, some lack broad possibilities of data recording or lack user-friendliness.“ Only PEAR and Carbon’ Clap take into acount the country of the emission source. Particularly for shots abroad or longer sections abroad, such as co-productions, it is crucial to consider the country of origin. The energy mix can differ from country to country because the primary energy comes from different sources.
In the field of mobility it appears that PEAR, Carbon’Clap as well as the MFG calculator sometimes lack important transport areas such as freight, public transport or ship transport. Although catering is an important area in film and TV productions, it is not included in the PEAR and Albert calculator. PEAR and E-Mission don’t include data on waste and disposal in the calculation.
„Post production is only marginal examined by all five calculators", emphasizes Jetter. While the PEAR does not explicitly include post production, users of the Carbon’ Clap and E-Mission can only specify the amount of days and costs for post-production. Albert and the MFG calculator are more comprehensive but still not acurate enough. Especially the power consumption, which can be considerable in post production not only by editing, sound, color correction but especially by rendering, is examined in al five calculators with little to no accuracy.
Before the development of PEAR, the major studios in the US used different approaches to calculate the carbon emissions of their productions, as Audrey Vinant-Tang, Corporate Sustainability Manager, Viacom CBS, points out. Thanks to the same methodology that is used in PEAR, the film industry can better compare the carbon emissions of various productions. A key issue is the use of pre-and post-balancing, which should help the user in the planning stage to to avoid certain resources. If the balancing takes place after the production, the carbon emissions can be measured but not reduced anymore.
A country-specific calculator cannot be adapted for another country without problems because adaptions need to be made for an appropriate generation of a carbon calculation.The currently existing carbon calculators are structured very differently. The system boundaries of each calculator are set differently and the depth of input options varies greatly between the calculators. A standardization can be facilitated by establishing and using a uniform methodology across country. The bachelor thesis Opportunities and limitations of carbon calculators on the road to sustainable film and television production by Marin Jetter is available for download.
“The time for half-measures and climate denial is over. Unless we move quickly away from fossil fuels, we’re going to destroy the air we breathe, the water we drink, the health of our children, grandchildren and future generations. If we’re going to avoid the worst of the impacts, then we’ve just got to act boldly. And we must act immediately."
Actor, Director, Producer, Environmentalist
"The media has a powerful role to play in the fight against climate change. Through films, television, and all media outlets, we must continue to deliver the message that solutions are out there and are happening now. We have to make it attractive for people to take action. Movies like Avatar, The Day After Tomorrow, and documentaries like Years of Living Dangerously, which I was proud to be a part of, have been very popular, reaching and inspiring millions of people. And I believe films in particular can really inspire and make people want to take action. It’s great to see some of my film-industry friends working with climate related organizations to push forward those messages."
„It‘s high time to reorganize film production in Germany in a ‚greener‘ and more sustainable way. So far, I am flabbergasted by how much our industry works in environmentally harmful ways.To this very day, it starts with until today one-sided print-outs of scripts, and then it continues with plastic bottles in production offices and lots of plastic waste with every catered meal, and it doesn‘t stop with the limousines that pull up to a red carpet.
For many years, people have sneered at me when I brought my own cup or I declined to eat cheap meat served on paper or plastic plates with plastic knives and forks. It would be great if the Green Shooting Card could change all that.“
Director (Ben X, Time of My Life)
„It’s absolutely great that filmmakers all over the world are trying to clean up their act, and are trying to film as sustainable as we possibly can. Still, I think we shouldn’t underestimate the incredible power of the moving image to also change the hearts and minds of people.
So, apart from trying to be more environmentally aware in our business, I think the big gain lies in how we might make everyone more environmentally aware. Yes, cinema can change the world.
I think filmmakers should start using the powerful weapon in our hands that is the camera.
Let’s not only try to do ‘less bad’. Let’s try to do right, and help drive the change that we all know needs to arrive.“
“We are living in a time in which we can’t afford to behave irresponsibly towards nature. The more important is it that film productions try to work as environmentally friendly as possible. A film team produces every day tons of garbage. I try to avoid using plastic cups on set, I bring my own cup, use ecofriendly cosmetics and avoid needless single rides.”
Photo ® Maddalena Arosio
Darren Aronofsky, Director, Noah / Jury President, 65th Berlin International Film Festival
“When we did Noah we knew we were making a film about the first steward of the earth, so we wanted to be good stewards ourselves. There’s so much waste on film sets. Because of groups like Earth Angel, we were able to change that a little bit.”
"As a TV and film producer I try to incorporate environmental storylines into my projects as much as possible. But it’s just as important, if not more, to ‚go green‘ behind the scenes! Therefore, I help run the Producers Guild of America’s Green Initiative.
We provide resources such as a Best Practices and a Carbon Calculator to help producers green their productions. We also partnered with all the major studios to create www.greenproductionguide.com which is a free green vendor database with over 2,000 vendors offering sustainable production solutions worldwide!"
Producer, Director and Visual Effects Supervisor (2001: A Space Odysee, Blade Runner)
"Trumbull Studios in Massachusetts is dedicated to being green as much as possible, including the use of LED lighting, solar power, and solar laptops. This is not just because our location has limited amperage and no three-phase, we believe we have a responsibility to our community and our planet to be a clean industry.
We are planning for digital photography in 3D 4K at 120 frames per second from remote and inaccessible locations that will not have available power. Solar is the way to go."
Dieter Kosslick, Director Berlin International Film Festival
„The Berlinale is already actively addressing the sustainability subject since years. We appreciate it very much that a growing number of filmmakers, among them this year‘s jury presiden Darren Aranofsky, is following green guidelines on set.“
Director of Photography (A Most Wanted Man)
‘I never have been told precisely what the rules are for shooting a green movie, but we are trying to do it. This is something new for me. Sometimes people overlight scenes at night. I don’t. If I can see with my own eyes, then it is enough for the film. In that sense I am a green DoP.’
Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons who stars in the Berlinale Competition entry The Night Train To Lisbon is a fan of source segregated recycling. „Especially in Germany you have done a lot for that. You are examplary in the matter of waste separation.“
The Hollywood actor travelled around the world to promote the environmntal documentary feature film Trashed by Candida Brady which deals with the global garbage problem: „We buy it, we bury it, we burn it and then we ignore it“, says Brady. „With Jeremy Irons as our guide, we discover what happens to the billion or so tons of waste that goes unaccounted for each year.“
Since the world premiere at the International Cannes Film Festival in 2012 Trashed picked up various nominations and awards at international festivals.