Imperial College London

Coldplay and Imperial to measure climate impact of touring

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Photo of the band Coldplay

Coldplay (Image credit: James Marcus Haney)

Global rock stars Coldplay are partnering with climate change experts at Imperial to quantify the environmental impact of their upcoming world tour.

Coldplay, the 100 million album-selling rock band, will work with leading scientists from the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and Environment at Imperial College London to quantify the impact of their Music Of The Spheres World Tour.

The group have pledged to do more to tackle climate change and want to use their global platform to make a positive difference.

The band and scientists will collaborate to understand the carbon footprint of the international tour, the impact of actions already undertaken to reduce carbon emissions, and to offer suggestions of how to reduce the environmental impact further in the future.

The joy of live music

Live music is a global industry that brings joy to billions of people around the world, but artists and fans are now facing up to the fact that touring shows have an environmental impact.

We've spent the last two years consulting with environmental experts to make this tour as sustainable as possible. Coldplay

Climate change is leading to the sea-level rising, wildfires, heatwaves and droughts in increasing numbers and severity. The cause of this is greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) that are released when fossil fuels are used by people to fly, drive, manufacture goods and grow food (particularly animals), among other every-day activities in Western countries - and in the live music industry.

Coldplay, whose lead singer is Chris Martin (pictured below) and who met while studying in London, have expressed their interest in reducing the harms of climate change. In 2019, the band committed to making their future tours as environmentally beneficial as possible and the new partnership with the Grantham Institute is one of a set of sustainability initiatives and environmental commitments.

Photo of Chris Martin, lead singer of coldplay, performing at a concert
Coldplay play Shepherd's Bush Empire in October 2021 (Image credit: Raph_PH / Flickr / CC-BY-2.0)

Coldplay said: "Playing live and finding connection with people is ultimately why we exist as a band. We've been planning this tour for years, and we’re super excited to play songs from across our whole time together.

"At the same time, we're very conscious that the planet is facing a climate crisis. So, we've spent the last two years consulting with environmental experts to make this tour as sustainable as possible, and, just as importantly, to harness the tour's potential to push things forward.

"We won't get everything right, but we're committed to doing everything we can and sharing what we learn.

"It's a work in progress and we're really grateful for the help we've had so far."

Dr Jem Woods, Reader in the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial and lead researcher in this partnership said, "On their last tour Coldplay had a staggering five million fans attending their concerts with countless more fans listening to the music. They are able to reach huge numbers of people with their environmental messages."

Extensive research shows that preventing worse climate change will require people with the most polluting lifestyles to make changes. Roughly as much effort is needed in new innovations and existing low-carbon technologies to make the changes that are often beyond individual peoples' control, such as removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or from industrial manufacturing plants.

Part of the research aims to understand how impactful the band's messages on environment and sustainability are in influencing persistent and positive changes in their fans' behaviour.

"Well-off countries and people simply can’t continue with the behaviours and activities that we used to do if we are stand a chance of effectively combating climate change and mitigate the terrible impacts it will have on our society and environment," added Dr Woods.

"Influencers, and other high-profile people such as the band members from Coldplay can play an important role in showing the way forward and getting this message out to parts of society that climate scientists find it difficult to reach."

Luke Howell, Founder & Director of HOPE SOLUTIONS, an environmental sustainability supplier to the arts and entertainment sector, who is working on the project, said, "An independent assessment was undertaken to audit the A Head Full of Dreams tour in 2016/17 and that has informed many of the actions and steps that are now being taken to reduce emissions and increase efficiencies across the upcoming Music of The Spheres World Tour."

Professor Martin Siegert, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial, said, "We are delighted to be forming a partnership with one of the biggest bands in the world to help them to understand and reduce the environmental impact of their forthcoming tour."

"Tackling climate change will require rapid action across all sectors of society and it is genuinely exciting to work with Coldplay to help identify direct carbon savings and potentially to consider how bands can engage with their fans on this important issue."

Coldplay's sustainability commitments that Grantham Institute researchers will work to quantify, include to:

  • Cut direct emissions by 50% compared to the band’s most recent tour (2016-17).
  • Power the show entirely by renewable, super-low emission energy – with solar installations at every venue, waste cooking oil, a kinetic stadium floor and kinetic bikes powered by fans. This power will be stored in the first ever mobile, rechargeable show battery (developed and made in partnership with BMW from recyclable BMW i3 batteries).
  • Draw down significantly more carbon dioxide (CO2) than the tour produces with a range of nature- and technology-based solutions, including planting one tree for every ticket sold.
  • Provide each venue with a sustainability rider requesting best environmental practices.
  • Encourage fans to use low carbon transport to and from shows via the official tour app built by SAP, rewarding those who do with a discount at venues.
  • Ensure all merchandise is sustainably and ethically sourced.
  • Offer free drinking water and strive to eliminate plastic bottles at every venue.
  • Put 10% of all earnings into a fund for environmental and socially-conscious causes, including ClientEarth, One Tree Planted and The Ocean Cleanup.
  • Establish a partnership with climate change experts at Imperial College London's Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment to quantify the impact of the tour – both positively and negatively – on the environment.

Grantham Institute have published accessible guides for people wanting to make a difference for climate change and the environment.

Read more and make your pledge:

Reporter

Simon Levey

Simon Levey
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 5650
Email: s.levey@imperial.ac.uk

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