Stars back Equity campaign to make film and TV greener


More than 100 actors are backing calls for a Green Rider – an environmentally friendly contract between performers and film and TV production companies.

Stars including Bella Ramsey, Stephen Fry and Natalie Dormer all signed a statement created by Equity For A Green New Deal setting out proposals to improve sustainability in the UK’s film and TV industry.

Riders are a set of clauses that actors can add to their contract – often before a job is accepted – detailing their requirements on set.

However, they are perhaps most infamously known for being used by high-profile talent to make demands, with stories of stars asking for all-white furniture, cute puppies and kittens on arrival, or the use of a private jet.

In contrast, the Green Rider would insert commitments to eco-friendly practices into the contracts of the stars, with suggested clauses including:

• Artists avoiding large trailers, private air travel, or fossil-fuel powered road vehicles

• Producers providing low carbon transport options such as trains and electric vehicles

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• Artists considering the carbon/environmental cost of additional food or comfort requests that require runners to go off site, and reducing them accordingly

• Artists sharing trailers and dressing rooms to reduce energy use

• Producers providing the artist with their carbon reduction plan

The Last Of Us star Ramsey, 19, called the Green Rider a “practical route to positive change” in the film and television industry.

They said: “We can make all the films in the world about climate change but unless we are environmentally conscious in the process of making them, our efforts are superficial”.

Film set
The average big-budget movie production produces 2,840 tonnes of CO2

Is it hypocritical?

However, some will greet the proposed contracts with scepticism, with the film and TV industry known for transporting both casts and crews around the world for filming, as well as many non-sustainable practices around costumes, props and promotional events.

According to a report created by BAFTA’s albert (an environmental organisation aiming to encourage the TV and film production industry to reduce waste and its carbon footprint) the average big-budget movie production produces 2,840 tonnes of CO2.

Meanwhile many celebrities have taken flack for contradictory behaviour with regards to their climate credentials. In 2019, actress Emma Thompson faced a backlash after taking a 5,400-mile flight from Los Angeles to London to join climate protests in London.

Celebrities themselves have noted the problematic nature of high-profile performers – who by their very nature have high carbon lives and work in industries with a huge carbon footprint – fronting climate change movements.

The same year as Thompson’s flight faux pas, more than 100 celebrities, including actor Jude Law, and Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, called themselves “hypocrites” in an open letter backing climate change protesters Extinction Rebellion and urging the government to “tell the public the truth” about the climate crisis.

Equity says that it is currently discussing a scheme with the BBC, ITV Studios and Sky Studios to pilot the Green Rider in upcoming productions, with a view to it becoming part of future collective agreements.

The UK government says it wants to produce net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The campaign will be considered further at an Edinburgh TV Festival panel on Tuesday called The Green Rider: Actor/Industry Collaboration Towards Sustainability.