At Coldplay’s ‘eco-friendly’ world tour, if you stop jumping – if you dare to stop having an actively good time, that is – the lights will go out. Or so says Chris Martin, the band’s lead singer. One of the group’s most eye-catching initiatives is a ‘kinetic’ dance floor that will generate electricity when fans jump up and down on it. Which sounds... exhausting. And just a little bit like greenwashing.
But the band claims the tour – in support of latest album ‘Music of the Spheres’ – will be so ‘clean’ and ‘green’ that it has a ‘net-zero’ carbon footprint. So, how exactly are they going to do that?
Well, the Coldplay website now has its own sustainability page, which lays out a 12-point action plan. The initiatives range from abstract, buzzword-filled things like funding a ‘portfolio of nature- and technology-based projects’ to more specific policies like prioritising travel by commercial flights over private planes.
The list of ‘eco-friendly’ stuff is extensive. The band will fund the planting of one tree for every ticket sold; they will use renewable energy sources like solar power and biofuels; a massive custom-built, rechargeable battery will power the shows; all staging, LED wristbands and special effects will be reusable or recyclable... And that’s just scratching the surface of the band’s plans. Coldplay’s overall aim is to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent compared with their last tour.
But is it even possible to have an ‘eco-friendly’ world tour? With all the air travel and energy consumption involved, it’s certainly a difficult task. But that’s not stopping several notable acts from trying. Earlier this year, Bristol-based electronic duo Massive Attack unveiled a plan, in collaboration with the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, to reduce carbon emissions while touring. Many music-biz types duly hailed it an ambitious and far-reaching roadmap for the future of the industry.
Coldplay are honest about the fact that their upcoming tour will still leave behind a pretty sizeable carbon footprint. To compensate (and to achieve ‘net-zero carbon’), they’re also focusing on carbon removal initiatives. As well as funding nature-based solutions such as reforestation and rewilding, the band is partnering with Climeworks, a Swiss tech company that makes machines which remove carbon from the air and safely store it.
It seems that Coldplay’s environmentalism is certainly more than just for show. Christoph Gebald, Climeworks’ CEO and co-founder, told Dezeen: ‘It is already proven that carbon removal at scale is a must on the current emissions pathway and technological solutions will be needed.
‘We are very inspired to see public figures like Coldplay seizing the magnitude of the challenge and acting boldly by working towards ambitious emissions reduction.’
So, it appears the ‘Music of the Spheres’ tour plan can be read in two ways: it’s either an impressive attempt to transform the global touring business in a time of climate emergency, or it’s an even more impressive attempt to greenwash the hell out of an energy-guzzling industry.
Want to pop along to see how it all works in practice? The tour kicks off in March in Costa Rica – a country famous for its incredible national parks, biodiversity and almost-entirely-renewable energy supply – before taking in stadiums in London, Paris and Berlin. Find out more here.
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