Raph_PH [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

November 21, 2019, Washington Post

Addressing the climate emergency requires deeds, not just words. The British band Coldplay is following that principle, hitting the pause button on tour plans for their latest alternative rock album, Everyday Life, which drops Friday.

Coldplay has determined it is time to change the way they operate in order to benefit the planet. Fans should not panic; the band does plan to tour again. However, the band members have decided that before they do so, they want to figure out how to organize their concerts to be more environmentally friendly, less fossil fuel-dependent, and have an overall carbon-neutral impact.

Other artists have begun to integrate green practices in their tours. The Dave Mathews Band uses biodiesel in their tour bus, eats local food, and reduces waste to the point that the band has retroactively nullified their carbon footprint for their total touring career. Dave Matthews shares how he came to the decision to work green.

“When the band started to become successful, I’d leave a concert venue and see the amount of garbage left behind, and I realized that we had to do something or we wouldn’t have a leg to stand on,” Dave Matthews, of the Dave Matthews Band, told Variety, “I can’t in good conscience tell anyone the planet is in peril and that they should do something about it—unless I’m doing everything I think is possible.”

The rock band Radiohead also uses biofueled buses; they drink from water flasks instead of single-use plastic cups, and their gear is moved across the oceans by ship instead of airplane. (The teenaged environmentalist Greta Thunberg demonstrated her commitment to reversing climate change, making a carbon neutral trip from Sweden to the US by getting a ride across the Atlantic on a sailboat.) All are providing examples of how to work green, rather than just paying lip service to the concept.

Coldplay’s last tour in 2016 and 2017 of 114 shows, “A Head Full of Dreams,” traveled across five continents, and included 109 crew members, 32 truck drivers and nine bus drivers, and a stage that was 213 feet by 95 feet, according to TPi Magazine. There are a lot of moving parts there that have to work together and arrive at tour destinations together.

Coldplay frontman Chris Martin told the BBC that the band will spend the next year or two working out how best to make their tour carbon neutral. “We’ve done a lot of big tours at this point,” said Martin. “How do we turn it around so it’s not so much taking as giving?”

According to Julie’s Bicycle, a London-based organization that supports environmental sustainability among artists, UK bands alone released 85,000 tons of greenhouse gases in 2009 with their travel, lighting and production of merchandise. Carbon emissions from travel, specifically airplanes, as bands move around the world is the biggest challenge. Martin said that they will lean on solar power to run the shows.

Coldplay is giving a show at London’s Natural History Museum this week before taking the break, with proceeds going to ClientEarth, an environmental law NGO.—Marian Conway