Coldplay attacks the environmental footprint of their concerts

NEW YORK (AP) — Fans are said to give artists an electric shock at live concerts. Coldplay wants to take advantage of that, literally.

The popular band has added kinetic dance floors and energy-storing stationary bikes to its current world tour, and encourages its fans to power up the artistic spectacle while dancing or pedaling.

It’s part of a larger effort to make the tour more environmentally friendly. The group, whose songs include “Higher Power,” have pledged to be as sustainable and low-carbon as possible in hopes of reducing their carbon dioxide emissions by 50%.

“You don’t want to seem too serious. This is also a lot of fun,” says bassist Guy Berryman. “That way it will take hold: if people see it less as an onerous responsibility and more as an opportunity to do something fun that helps the environment and the concert experience.”

Each kinetic dance floor can accommodate dozens of people and there electricity is produced by movement. Before the show begins, the band holds contests to see which group of fans can generate the most energy, buoyed by House of Pain’s song “Jump Around.”

Each of the bikes — at least 15, but can be more depending on the size of the venue — can generate 200 watts of power, which is captured in batteries that power the elements of the show.

Coldplay is just one of a number of music artists working to reduce the effects of the energetic footprints of their tours, a list that includes Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, The Lumineers, Dave Matthews Band, Shawn Mendes, Maroon 5, John Mayer , Lorde, The Chicks, Jason Isbell and The 1975.

“The relationship that musicians have with millions of their fans is unlike any other relationship with any other public figure. They can be a walking, talking example,” says Adam Gardner, founder and co-CEO of Reverb, a nonprofit organization that helps bands put on “green” shows. The group is not collaborating on the Coldplay tour.

General interest

The artists reflect a general effort by the entertainment world — from sports teams to toymakers — to reduce their carbon footprint. A study by Live Nation found that 82% of attendees of live music events state that they strive to maintain an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

“Being green is not some kind of charitable exercise in self-flagellation, of being holier than another. It is a good business model. That’s what we’d like to show,” says Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.

Guitarist Jonny Buckland adds: “It has to work.”

The efforts range from offering more plant-based food options and eliminating single-use plastic, to rethinking transportation, the most environmentally demanding factor of touring for musicians and fans.

Billie Eilish has pledged to eliminate some 35,000 single-use water bottles on her tour and only serves vegetarian food backstage. The band Massive Attack travels by train, and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour” merchandise is sustainably colored and 100% organic cotton.

Shawn Mendes has pledged to reduce the environmental impact and emissions of his tour by 50% per show by employing sustainable fabrics in tour hoodies and t-shirts, staying in hotels that commit to net-zero emissions, eliminating plastic and using fuel. sustainable aviation. Harry Styles’ most recent tour had battery recycling centers and donated unused hotel toiletries to shelters.

Coldplay plans to keep air travel to a minimum, but when flights are necessary the band will opt for commercial planes over charters, using trains and electric vehicles whenever possible. The trucks will use alternative fuels such as hydrotreated vegetable oil.

“We’ve looked at every aspect of the show because there’s nothing you can do that will make a significant difference overall. Basically, all these changes you make add up to something more impressive overall,” says Berryman. “Hopefully it will have this ripple effect throughout our industry.”

The stage for their “Music of the Spheres” tour is made from recycled steel, and the band hopes to implement the world’s first touring battery system, made from 40 reused and recyclable BMW electric car batteries. The intention is to power the entire show with them, without ever needing the electricity grid or diesel generators.

“We’re blessed to have the resources to do it because it’s so expensive to try these things out for the first time,” admits Martin.

“We are privileged to be in a position where we can change.”

There is also biodegradable confetti, compostable wristbands for the audience, solar panels and a generator that runs on vegetable oil. All of the band’s merchandise is sourced ethically and sustainably, and 10% of net proceeds from the tour will go to environmental organizations like The Ocean Cleanup and One Tree Planted. “We’re trying to do this in a way that’s quite practical and professional so that we don’t get branded as left-wing crackpots. It is quite centrist and practical”, emphasizes Martin.

Drummer Will Champion says the new green technology can be useful to other bands just starting out on tour and hopes all artists will share experiences on what works and what doesn’t.

“The more it spreads and the more people take the initiative and come up with new ideas, the faster it will become the industry standard,” he says. “When that gets to the point of being obvious because it costs the same or less than traditional ways of doing it, the floodgates will open and we will make a significant change.”

But change has not always been smooth. Coldplay has been accused of “greenwashing” for partnering with Neste, which bills itself as the world’s largest producer of sustainable biofuels.

Transport and Environment, a Brussels-based environmental organization, says Neste has “documented links to deforestation and dubious biofuels” such as palm oil and derivatives. Neste counters that “conventional palm oil” is not used as a “raw material” in the collaboration with Coldplay and hopes to end its use by 2023.

“They are doing everything they can”, stresses the director in chief of Transport and Environment, Carlos Calvo Ambel, about Coldplay, “but maybe they chose the wrong adviser”.

Reverb, which has been helping bands overcome the challenges of going green since 2004, offers everything from free water stations to sourcing local organic food from family farms near the event site. The nonprofit organization has helped prevent the use of four million non-reusable water bottles since its inception.

“Our philosophy is that it is not all or nothing. I think if we force people to do everything at once, the majority will choose to do nothing,” warns Gardner, who is also a touring musician with his band Guster.

“Some artists we work with are ready to go full throttle and others are looking at things that they can change right away. I think the most important thing is to start,” she adds.

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Coldplay attacks the environmental footprint of their concerts

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