When Coldplay announced that they would not tour the world again until they could make such an endeavour environmentally “beneficial”, you probably thought they’d never travel anywhere ever again. Two years later though, they’ve cracked it. Well, they apparently think they have, anyway.
Of course, achieving the band’s big ambition to make touring environmentally positive isn’t as easy as just doing one thing and then huddling together for a good round of back-patting. There’s quite a list of changes that have had to be made to the band’s usual touring activity in order to ensure that next year’s ‘Music Of The Spheres’ tour will be as sustainable and low carbon as possible.
As their benchmark, they’ve committed to ensuring that this tour produces 50% fewer emissions compared to their last global outing in 2016 and 2017.
In order to do this, the shows will be powered entirely by renewable energy, including via solar installations at every venue, waste cooking oil, a kinetic stadium floor that will generate energy from fans dancing, and kinetic bikes that fans can have a ride on to produce a bit of energy for the venue (in the event that that’s something they want to do).
The energy produced by all of this will be stored in a mobile, rechargeable power source, built out of recyclable BMW i3 batteries.
As well as using technology to improve the environmental credentials of the tour, Coldplay will also be using good old nature, including planting one tree for every ticket sold. They’ll also ensure that all merch is sustainably and ethically sourced, and provide free drinking water at each show in an effort to eliminate plastic bottle waste.
This is all well and good, of course, but what about the venues and, worse, the Coldplay fans, who the band have less control over? I’m not sure if they considered just banning all people from their gigs, but – either way – that’s not a decision they’ve made. People will be allowed to attend.
However, they will be encouraged to travel to the shows via low carbon transport, with a specially designed tour app giving them information on how to do so. Those who do will receive a discount on stuff they buy at the venue. The venues, meanwhile, will be provided with a sustainability rider requesting best environmental practices while Coldplay are in town. And, presumably, beyond.
Beyond all that, 10% of earnings from the tour will be placed in a fund that will support environmental and socially conscious causes. Plus, some boffins – climate change experts at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute no less – will be brought in to assess how well – or not well – all of this has worked afterwards.
“Playing live and finding connection with people is ultimately why we exist as a band”, say Coldplay in a statement. “We’ve been planning this tour for years, and we’re super excited to play songs from across our whole time together. At the same time, we’re very conscious that the planet is facing a climate crisis. So we’ve spent the last two years consulting with environmental experts to make this tour as sustainable as possible, and, just as importantly, to harness the tour’s potential to push things forward”.
“We won’t get everything right, but we’re committed to doing everything we can and sharing what we learn”, they go on. “It’s a work in progress and we’re really grateful for the help we’ve had so far. If you’d like to come to a show and sing with us, we’re so excited to see you”.
It remains to be seen if this tour is truly “beneficial” to the environment, but when you have the resources available to test out all these new technologies and tactics, doing so is probably better for the environment long term, rather than just refusing to tour in order to save the planet. Maybe. Anyway, hopefully some of this will work and will become available to less affluent artists.
Still, in an interview with the BBC, Chris Martin said that he was ready for a backlash about some aspects of the tour – not least the band’s decision to continue travelling on private jets.
“I don’t mind any backlash at all”, he said. “We’re trying our best, and we haven’t got it perfect. Absolutely. We always have backlash for everything. And the people that give us backlash for that kind of thing, for flying, they’re right. So we don’t have any argument against that”.
He went on: “In some areas, there’s still not enough possible, like how do you get people to a venue without consuming any power? That’s still really hard. Or flying – there’s still a lot of offsetting we have to do, because even sustainable aviation fuel isn’t good enough yet. So we know where we still have a long way to go. But in terms of the show itself, the whole show is powered from renewable energy, which is amazing”.
And, at the very least, they aren’t manufacturing tens of thousands of single-use, light up wristbands, like they did a decade ago.
Set to run from March to September, with support from London Grammar and HER, the Coldplay tour will travel from the US, to the Dominican Republic, to Mexico, back to the US, to Germany, to Poland, back to Germany, to France, to Belgium, to the UK, and then finish up at Brazil’s Rock In Rio Festival.
There will be four UK dates in all – three of them at London’s Wembley Stadium. Tickets go on sale next Friday. Here are those UK dates in full:
12 Aug: London, Wembley Stadium
13 Aug: London, Wembley Stadium
16 Aug: London, Wembley Stadium
23 Aug: Glasgow, Hampden Park Stadium
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