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Chris Martin Wants To Reduce The Carbon Footprint Of Coldplay’s Tour… Does He?

Coldplay's tour
Coldplay’s tour


You may have heard that Coldplay’s tour will try to cut the carbon footprint of touring next year. According to Futurism, a 6-month tour could add up to 19 314 kg of CO2 in the environment, so the equivalent of taking nearly 20 flights back and forth from New York City to London. So touring is really impactful.

Coldplay’s decision could be admirable… but is it? Chris Martin revealed to the BBC that the energy necessary to power the stage would come from ‘kinetic flooring’: in other words, the public would produce it! “When they move, they power the concert. And we have bicycles too that do the same thing,” Martin told BBC entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson. The stage will literally be powered up by the movement of people jumping up and down.”When I say that, I literally really need you to jump up and down. Because if you don’t, then the lights go out,’ Martin added.

According to the BBC, concerts will use electricity from batteries fueled by fan power as well as solar energy, recycled cooking oil from local restaurants, and mains power from 100% renewable sources. I understand solar energy and other renewable sources, but jumping in the pit seems quite a stretch. Do you mean fans will have to move and jump all the time?

Coldplay’s tour has 11 dates across the US and will start in Costa Rica in March and end in Brazil in September. It’s a world tour and the band will be required to do a lot of flying around the world and flying is what basically generates the most CO2 when touring: a simple one-way trip from LA to NYC adds 0.56 metric tons of CO2 in economic class.

if you want more evidence that traveling is the main source of carbon emission during a tour, this detailed study, examining the carbon footprint of Radiohead’s 2003 and 2006 North American tours, found that “the main impact of both tours came from fan travel” and the “main band impacts were in air travel,” whereas “equipment was responsible for a tiny fraction of the band’s touring impact – 3-4 % for the Theater tour and 1% for the Amphitheatre tour.”

Coldplay is doing an Amphitheatre world tour, and this means that the entire thing is a gimmick: they give the impression to do something but the impact is minuscule in comparison of what they could do: the main environmental impact comes from band and fans travel, the carrying of the equipment and I am not even talking about the merchandise, food, and drinks sold at these big events. The lighting of the stage itself is, by far, not the main source of CO2 production.

The Radiohead study showed that traveling by train across the US would reduce the band’s total impact by 26 to 33 % and switching freight from truck to rail would save around 20%… But will Martin and his bandmates opt for the train solution instead of private jets? The impact would be infinitely greater than make people jump and pedal in the pit to power the stage.

Martin, who is sort of aware of this, added: “I don’t mind any backlash at all. We’re trying our best, and we haven’t got it perfect. Absolutely. We always have backlash for everything.”

“And the people that give us backlash for that kind of thing, for flying, they’re right. So we don’t have any argument against that.”

“We could stay at home and that may be better. But we want to tour and we want to meet people and connect with people – so try and do it in the cleanest way possible.”

Well, they are not trying their best. I will jump in their pit if they accept to ride the train.

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