BBC Studios was the broadcast and event partner for the first ever Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony at Alexandra Palace on October 17, 2021. Here, BBC Studios Productions Executive Producer Mark Sidaway explains how they succeeded in creating a gold-standard production, but kept it green… 

Launched by HRH Prince William and The Royal Foundation, The Earthshot Prize is a prestigious new award recognising innovation in environment.

Seeking to discover, spotlight and scale the world’s best eco-innovations that will regenerate and repair our planet, The Earthshot Prize is an annual award ceremony, giving £1million to the winners in each Earthshot category – Protect and Restore Nature, Clean our Air, Revive our Oceans, Build a Waste-free World and Fix our Climate.

Set against the backdrop of a global pandemic and the UK-hosted COP26 Conference in Glasgow, the first ever Earthshot Prize Awards London 2021 had a monumental challenge: to create an unforgettable and star-studded awards ceremony while also striving to achieve the highest standards of sustainability.

Both BBC Studios Global Events and BBC Studios Productions were involved in bringing this epic event to life, working together to stage the evening and produce the accompanying BBC One broadcast. Celebrating environmental pioneers from across the globe, BBC Studios also embodied those ideals by keeping carbon to an absolute minimum and delivering an albert-certified event – part of a BBC-wide commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Step one was to draw up a Green Memo for all involved – a series of shared goals that set out key environmental considerations and expectations. These principles underpinned every decision made, from the big impactful visuals to the fine detail.

Mounting a production of this scale can often involve using a large amount of electricity on stage lighting and sound. To mitigate this, BBC Studios Productions employed low energy lighting equipment, LEDs and grid-connected mains power rather than generators, which provided low carbon usage and 70% lower emissions. Power was also switched off at set times each day to limit energy waste.

In a similar vein, our opening performers Coldplay staged the first ever pedal-powered performance on TV, generating net-zero emissions as a result of the kinetic energy generated by 60 cyclists. 

Earthshot was a global celebration of finalists from around the world, including Costa Rica, the US and Milan. By filming the finalists in their home countries and using local crews for filming ,we were able to limit travel and drive down carbon emissions further, avoiding approximately 110 tonnes of CO2.

The BBC Studios Global Events Team ensured that guests were treated to a spectacular evening, with sustainability at its heart. By replacing the traditional red carpet with a green one, they set the tone for the evening from the very beginning. The green carpet was lined with flora which was re-planted after the event, creating a stunning sustainable backdrop.  Guests were also asked to wear second hand, vintage or pre-worn clothing.

There was a commitment not to use single use plastics across the event; a strict zero waste to landfill policy; and all food for crew, guests and talent was either vegetarian or vegan and sourced from within 100 miles of the event.

All told, The Earthshot Prize London 2021’s carbon footprint came to less than 5 tonnes – an astounding 98% reduction on projections for an event of this kind.

We were so proud to launch the first-ever awards in London and showcase how it is possible to deliver an entertaining and inspiring broadcast event while also setting the global standard for sustainability and eco-innovation.

It was a joy to work with Prince William and the Royal Foundation to achieve this extraordinary goal and bring viewers such an important event with sustainability at its core.




About BBC Studios

BBC Studios, a global content company with bold British creativity at its heart, is a commercial subsidiary of the BBC Group, supporting the licence fee and enhancing programmes for UK audiences. Able to take an idea seamlessly from thought to screen and beyond, its activities span content financing, development, production, sales, branded services, and ancillaries across both its own productions, and programmes and formats made by high-quality UK independents. Award-winning British programmes made by the business are internationally recognised across a broad range of genres and specialisms, with brands like Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing with the Stars, Top Gear and Doctor Who., BBC Studios’ global digital news platform, provides up-to-the-minute international news, in-depth analysis and features to more than 139 million unique browsers each month. BBC Studios has offices in over 20 markets globally, including ten production bases in the UK and production bases or partnerships in a further seven countries around the world. The company, which ordinarily makes around 2000 hours of content a year for both the BBC and third parties including Apple, Netflix and Migu, is a champion for British creativity around the world.  It is also a committed partner for the UK’s independent sector through a mix of equity partnerships, content investment and international distribution for programme titles.

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