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Fix You: Coldplay’s eco-friendly tour reduces band’s carbon emissions by nearly half

Coldplay perform their 'Music Of The Spheres World Tour' at Estadio Mas Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti on 25 October 2022 in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Coldplay perform their 'Music Of The Spheres World Tour' at Estadio Mas Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti on 25 October 2022 in Buenos Aires, Argentina Copyright Santiago Bluguermann/Getty Images
Copyright Santiago Bluguermann/Getty Images
By David Mouriquand
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Coldplay have shared new figures that show the celebrated British band have reduced their carbon emissions by nearly half with their eco-friendly world tour.

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Love them, hate them, or fear their saccharine brand of stadium pop which nosedived quite dramatically after 2008's admittedly excellent 'Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends', you can't reproach Chris Martin and his merry band for not sticking to their green guns. 

The band had previously announced that they were looking to make their tours more ecologically friendly by reducing carbon emissions through several methods, including powering their shows from bicycles and electricity-producing dancefloors, building sets from bamboo, and planting a tree for every ticket sold.

Now, new research for the band's Music Of The Spheres world tour, which is currently midway through a new run of UK dates, has been released by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and shared by the band.

These figures show that Coldplay have emitted 47 per cent less carbon emissions on their world tour so far, compared to their tour in 2016 and 2017, after which they said they would not be touring again until they could do so more sustainably.

Coldplay said of the figures: “This is a good start – and something that our incredible crew should be very proud of – but clearly there’s still room for improvement.”

The band told fans: “The emissions data from the first 12 months of the tour has now been collated, assessed and independently validated by Prof. John E. Fernandez of the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative. On a show-by-show comparison, the Music Of The Spheres Tour has so far produced 47% less CO2e emissions than our last stadium tour (2016-17).”

They added that they have started to run the entire show (audio, lights, lasers etc) “from an electric battery system that allows us to use 100 per cent renewable energy as efficiently as possible” and that they have been electric vehicles and alternative fuels “wherever we can, as well as reducing waste and plastic usage to a minimum.”

Coldplay have also thanked their fans, who have “helped charge the show batteries on the power bikes and kinetic dance floors; travelled to shows by foot, bicycle or public transport; used the recycling bins; ride-shared; brought refillable water bottles; returned the LED wristbands after the show. And just by coming you have had a tree planted, and helped a range of environmental organisations like The Ocean Cleanup and ClientEarth (a team of lawyers who defend the environment).”

The latest results are “scientifically rigorous,” according to Professor John E. Fernandez of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is monitoring the study.

Fernandez said that the institute’s Environmental Solutions Initiative “endorses this work as an important and substantive step toward a new era of eventually achieving carbon neutral music events by major artists. The band deserves significant praise in commissioning the work and acting as the vanguard for the global music industry as it begins to take seriously the reality of living and making music in the Anthropocene.”

Reuters
Chris Martin, Coldplay's frontman, pictured live on tourReuters

Coldplay are not the first band to aim for net-zero touring and who have gone beyond surface-level greenwashing. Massive Attack have been working with climate scientists to explore ways to put on “super low carbon” events by handing over years' worth of touring data to Manchester University’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to assess how the industry can do better, while Billie Eilish had been planning an eco-friendly tour for 2020 before COVID decided to make the artist entirely sustainable. As for another love-or-loathe-them band, The 1975 have also been making efforts: their pandemic-derailed summer festival in London’s Finsbury Park was set to be the first ever UK event powered entirely by a sustainably sourced biofuel, Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), and solar panels. They also introduced the concept of repurposing merchandise, as their fans have been offered the chance to bring their old band t-shirts to shows and have them screen printed with new branding at no cost.

World tours have always been an environmental nightmare, due to the transportation of crew, and equipment. Studies have shown that the majority of touring emissions – often over 90 per cent – come from the travelling involved, and Coldplay have pledged to minimise air travel and use “sustainable aviation fuel” where flying is unavoidable.

However imperfect, these gestures from major bands can bring about change and hopefully, Coldplay’s touring parameters can become, at the very least, the benchmark for other artists who go on tour. Environmentally conscious concert goers can also hold the artists they go to see live to a certain level of accountability. 

With this in mind, how about a new award at the Grammys, for example? The Fix You Coldplay Chalice of Keeping A Sky Full Of Stars... Or something like that... Catchier title pending.

The Music of the Spheres World Tour began on 18 March 2022, and continues until 22 November 2023.

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