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Coldplay address criticism of some eco-tour partners

By | Published on Thursday 12 May 2022


Coldplay have issued a statement following criticism of some of the partners they have chosen to work with in order to reduce the CO2 emissions on their latest world tour.

“When we announced this tour, we said that we would try our best to make it as sustainable and low carbon-impact as possible, but that it would be a work in progress”, they said. “That remains true. We don’t claim to have got it all right yet”.

“We set ourselves a target of reducing our overall CO2 emissions by 50% from the last tour in 2017”, they went on. “As part of this, we’re trying to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in our show production and land freight. In most cities – but not yet all – we can achieve this by using a mix of sustainable biofuels and renewable energy (solar, kinetic and wind). We’re also trying to reduce emissions from air travel with sustainable aviation fuel”.

The company with which Coldplay has partnered to provide biofuels is Neste, which bills itself as a producer of sustainable fuel. However, a Friends Of The Earth study in 2020 found that it used a palm oil supplier that was responsible for at least 10,000 hectares of deforestation in 2019 and 2020. Neste does still use palm oil in its fuels, although it says it plans to phase this out.

“The biodiesel and sustainable aviation fuel that we use on our tour is certified as renewable waste only (ie recycled cooking oil and byproducts from wood pulp manufacture)”, say the band in their statement. “It contains zero palm oil”.

Another part of the tour that has come in for criticism are the batteries used to power the shows, which are enabled by BMW. While the company has made advances in electric vehicle battery technology, it is also lobbying European politicians not to set a deadline of 2035 for all new cars in the EU to be zero emissions.

On this, the band say: “The second component of our efforts is a custom-built, tourable battery system to allow us to use renewable energy wherever we are in the world. We approached various electric car manufacturers to supply the batteries and expertise to create this. BMW were the ones that offered to help. We have no connection to or influence on their corporate policies. We just need their batteries so that we can power our shows with renewable energy”.

Concluding, they say: “We are doing our best, and always genuinely welcome suggestions as to how to do it better”.

While there have been calls for the band to find other partnerships, all this perhaps shows that there are more hurdles to creating a totally sustainable major tour than initially thought. Whether the band will find new partners remains to be seen – their statement suggests not – but either way, all of this provides useful learning on what (or what not) to do for the wider music industry as it seeks to become more environmentally sustainable.