Today’s Solutions: June 14, 2024

Coldplay set a new bar for sustainability in the music industry, reporting an astounding 59 percent reduction in their touring carbon footprint over their previous world tour. This success results from innovative techniques and fan collaboration, all consistent with the band’s dedication to environmental stewardship.

A commitment to change

Coldplay presented a 12-point strategy in 2021 to reduce their emissions when traveling, after frontman Chris Martin’s pledge to tour responsibly or not at all. The band set an ambitious aim for the Music of the Spheres world tour, which began in 2022: reduce carbon emissions from performance production, freight, and travel by at least 50 percent.

Two years into the tour, the band joyfully declared that it had exceeded this goal. “We’re happy to report that direct CO2e emissions from the first two years of this tour are 59 percent less than our previous stadium tour (2016-17), on a show-by-show comparison,” they said.

Fan-powered energy solutions

Coldplay’s connection with fans to produce power during concerts is an important part of its sustainability initiatives. Kinetic dance floors have been used in shows to turn the movements of the audience into energy. Fans are encouraged to jump on bespoke tiles to convert their dance energy into concert power.

Fans can also use power bikes during the spectacle. These bikes, when combined with solar panels and kinetic dance floors, enable the charging of smaller stage areas as well as vital equipment like phones and laptop computers. “We’d like to thank everyone who’s come to a show and helped charge the show batteries on the power bikes and kinetic dance floors,” the band stated.

Sustainable practices—not just for show

Coldplay’s dedication to sustainability goes beyond electricity generation. The band has taken many steps to reduce trash and promote recycling. One example is the usage of recyclable LED wristbands, which spectators are urged to return for reuse. They’ve also encouraged concertgoers to arrive by foot, bike, ride-sharing, or public transportation, and to bring refillable water bottles.

The data supporting these accomplishments was gathered by the sustainability company Hope Solutions and certified by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT Professor John E. Fernandez applauded the band’s work, saying, “Coldplay is charting a course for a low-carbon, biodiverse, and equitable future.” They are setting an example for the entire music industry in terms of authentic and humane sustainability.”

Remarkable accomplishments and ongoing efforts

Last July, an interim assessment showed a 47 percent reduction in carbon emissions, which was somewhat below the band’s aim. However, new data show that the trip has improved in efficiency over time. The band now claims that “72 percent of all tour waste has been diverted from landfill and sent for reuse, recycling, and composting,” up from 66 percent in 2023.

Eighteen shows were totally powered by a tourable battery system built of used BMW batteries, substantially lowering dependency on traditional power sources. During the tour, Coldplay also funded two solar-powered “ocean cleanup river interceptors” to help with larger environmental activities.

A tree has been planted for every ticket sold, a total of 7 million so far, by the global forestry NGO One Tree Planted, demonstrating the band’s dedication to environmental restoration.

Next steps

Live touring is inherently carbon-intensive, particularly for world tours with far-flung sites. Despite relying on air travel for the majority of gigs, Martin has committed to use public transportation wherever possible, as he did for the band’s Cardiff shows, arriving by train.

Coldplay acknowledges that their journey to full sustainability is ongoing. “As a band and as an industry, we’re far from where we should be on this. But we’re appreciative for everyone’s help so far, and we applaud everyone who’s working to move things forward,” they said.

A new standard for the music industry

Coldplay’s success in lowering its carbon footprint has established a new standard for sustainability in the music industry. Their creative techniques and dedication to eco-friendly procedures show that large-scale events can be both enjoyable and environmentally responsible. As more artists and bands attempt to follow suit, Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres tour is a striking example of how the business may move toward a more environmentally friendly future.

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