Jun 4, 2024 3 min read

A long way to go on carbon emission reductions say Coldplay as they beat their own target

As Coldplay’s Music Of The Spheres Tour continues, the band have published stats relating to their efforts to cut carbon emissions. They have now met their target of cutting emissions compared to their last tour by at least 50%, but say “we’re a long way from where we need to be on this”

A long way to go on carbon emission reductions say Coldplay as they beat their own target
Photo: Ned Snowman, via Shutterstock

Coldplay have published an update on their efforts to tour more sustainably, revealing that they have now met their target to reduce carbon emissions on their current tour by 50% compared to their last round of touring in 2016 and 2017. A year ago they were in sight of that 50% goal - with carbon emissions down 47%. This new announcement sees them comfortably pass the 50% threshold, with the latest reduction coming in at 59%.

Commenting on that achievement, the band say, “As a band, and as an industry, we’re a long way from where we need to be on this. But we’re grateful for everyone’s help so far and we salute everyone who’s making efforts to push things in the right direction”. 

That reduction in emissions is not just hot air: the figures are verified by the Environmental Solutions Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology

Commenting on the latest stats, MIT boffin John E Fernández commends the band’s “evolving vision and expanded commitment to move the entire music industry toward true and humane sustainability and planetary resilience”. He goes on, “From collecting unprecedented amounts of data to taking specific actions today based on rigorous analysis, Coldplay is modelling a trajectory toward a low carbon, biodiverse and equitable future”. 

The band have implemented an assortment of environmental initiatives on their Music Of The Spheres Tour, including employing an electric battery system that allows them to use 100% renewable energy, using electric vehicles and alternative fuels wherever possible, and putting power bikes and kinetic dance floors into venues so fans can help charge the batteries. 

Beyond dancing and pedalling to keep the batteries topped up, fans are encouraged to do their bit in other ways too. Although Coldplay’s top level carbon emissions figure doesn't include the impact of fans travelling to the venue, ticket buyers are encouraged to use public transport to help out - and that seems to be working. 

The band add, “data gathered by our tour app suggests a higher proportion of fans travelling by public transport and a significant reduction in indirect emissions compared to previous tours”.

A third of audience members used public transport, those stats suggest, and the average carbon footprint per traveller is 48% lower than on the previous tour. 4% of fans are really doing their bit by travelling to the show via zero carbon transport, so on foot or by bike. 

Other stats in the latest update include that eighteen shows in 2023 were powered entirely using the tourable battery system; an average of 17kWh is generated each show by a combination of the power bikes and kinetic dance floors, as well as some solar panels; over 3000 tCO2e (‘tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent’) was saved by purchasing sustainable aviation fuel for flights; and 72% of all tour waste was diverted from landfill and sent for reuse, recycling and composting. 

Topping off all of that, a tree has been planted for every concert-goer, which works out at about seven million trees. Which is really quite a lot, when you consider that the whole of London has around eight million trees.

As for how this might impact on the live music industry more generally, the band say, “as yet, there is no industry standard for sustainable touring or centrally-mandated methodology for emissions reporting in this sector. This is something that we will continue to promote and try to establish. We have made all efforts to align ourselves with the principles of recognised standards such as the greenhouse gas protocol, and follow best practices and guidance”. 

Earlier this year Coldplay announced that they, their promoter and their label - Live Nation and Warner Music - were now all working with MIT on a comprehensive study of the live music industry’s carbon footprint. The aim is to identify and promote practical solutions to reduce the environmental impact of live music events at every level, from grassroots music venues through to arena and stadium shows and tours.

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