Back in 2019 Coldplay decided to not tour their latest album – Everyday Life until they found better ways to minimise their environmental impact and put sustainability at the heart of what they do as a band of international acclaim and influence.
Commenting at the time, Chris Martin, the lead singer said – “All of us have to work out the best way of doing our job,” and that the band wanted their future tours to “have a positive impact.”
The travel involved for both fans and performers, production equipment and merchandise generate substantial environmental impact, as well as the live events themselves, where the energy needed to power them has a large carbon footprint as well as the large amount of waste and plastics.
“We all have a responsibility to lead by example in the face of this climate and nature crisis – inaction is not an option if we are to preserve our planet for future generations.” – Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Climate Change, WWF
Coldplay have collaborated with experts to find out how they can minimise their environmental footprint as much as possible, aligning themselves to the UN-led ‘Race to Zero’ campaign and matching the targets set by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
They have released their first sustainability report and as of 2 June 2023 and are on track to have produced 47% less CO2 emissions than their previous tour as well as planting 5 million trees (one for each concert goer).
Coldplay say “This is a good start – and something our incredible crew should be very proud of – but clearly there’s still room for improvement.”
Reduce, reinvent and restore
Their pledge is based on 3 core principles that were actioned through careful planning, benchmarking and collaboration.
- Reduce – cutting tour carbon emissions by 50% v’s last tour in 2016/17; reducing their consumption; recycling extensively.
- Reinvent – by supporting new green technologies and low-carbon methods.
- Restore –by funding both nature and Technology-based sustainability projects across the world and Sustainability focused NGO’s.
The role of partnerships:
To have the kind of impact Coldplay was aiming for, they knew that the companies they worked with for any future tours would have a pivotal role in achieving their goals.
DHL provided logistics which have reduced both ocean and air freight emissions through the use of advanced biofuels and using its fleet of electric vehicles and trucks fuelled with Bio-LNG (liquified natural gas made from organic waste).
BMW provided the world’s first ever mobile, rechargeable show battery for tour. This created super low emission because of the use of electric power and replacement of the usual diesel and petrol generators. They recharged the batteries through a range of renewable sources including solar installations, a kinetic stadium floor, power bikes and generators powered by Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil.
Inspiring the attendees was central to their approach.
Coldplay engaged their fans in new forms of energy creation as part of the show – with kinetic energy floors, energy generating bikes that helped to recharge their batteries as well as inspiring them to choose low-carbon transport options and calculating their own carbon footprint through the tour app which they developed with SAP.
The LED wristbands that had become a part of Coldplay’s live show experience were deliberately reimagined to be more ‘dull’ plastic-like (but plastic-free) and plain white with no branding, so that fans would be much more likely to return on the way out as requested ensuring more circularity of materials.
Setting a new standard for sustainability in the music and events industry
By placing ambitious sustainability targets at the heart of the tour’s design they’ve not only made great strides in reducing their environmental impact but also engaged fans and the industry at large in their journey. It’s an inspiring example of how even the grandest of artistic spectacles can be reimagined for a more sustainable future.
Credit: Photographer Steve Jennings