Coldplay’s next tour will partly be powered by a dancefloor that generates electricity when fans jump up and down, and pedal power at the venues.
It’s part of a 12-point plan to cut their carbon footprint, two years after the band pledged not to tour until they could do so in a more sustainable way.
In his first interview about the plans, singer Chris Martin told the BBC that fans will be on “kinetic flooring.”
“When they move, it powers the concert,” he explained.
“We also have bicycles that do the same thing,” Martin explained to BBC entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson.
“The more people who move, the more they help.” When the frontman says, ‘We need you to jump up and down,’ you know what he means.
“I literally need you to jump up and down when I say that.” Because if you don’t, the lights will go out.”
‘I don’t mind backlash’
In addition, for every ticket purchased, Coldplay will plant a tree. They performed in front of 5.4 million people during their most recent tour, which took place in 2016-17. This made it one of the most successful tours of all time, earning more than $500 million (£380 million).
The singer acknowledged that some of their actions, such as continuing to fly on private jets, would elicit criticism.
“I don’t mind any kind of backlash,” he said. “We’re doing our best, but we’re not there yet. Absolutely. There is always some sort of backlash for everything.
“And those who criticise us for doing such things, such as flying, are correct. So we don’t have any counter-arguments.”
He admitted that the question of “why tour at all?” was always present in his mind, saying: “And that’s where we don’t really have a plan B, though we’d like to.
“We could stay at home, which might be preferable. But we want to tour, and we want to meet and connect with people, so we’ll try to do it as cleanly as possible.”
Martin stated that their goal for the next few years is to have “slightly shifted the status quo of how a tour works.”
On Thursday, the British band announced a world tour that will kick off in March in Costa Rica, which has one of the highest rates of renewable energy generation in the world.
The concerts will use fan-powered batteries, solar energy, recycled cooking oil from local restaurants, and mains power from 100 percent renewable sources where available, such as in Costa Rica.
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However, the singer admitted that they had not yet figured out how to reduce the environmental impact of some aspects of touring.
“In some areas, there is still not enough possible, such as how to get people to a venue without using any power.” “That’s still really difficult,” he said.
“Or flying – we still need to do a lot of offsetting, because even sustainable aviation fuel isn’t good enough yet.”
“Now we know where we have a long way to go.” But, in terms of the show itself, the entire thing is powered by renewable energy, which is incredible.”
How did all this happen? By entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson
Jordan, Amman 2019. I’m perched on a ledge in an ancient citadel, interviewing Chris Martin about their new album “Everyday Life.” I ask a fairly innocuous question about halfway through, “How difficult is it to be an environmental band and do global tours?”
His response caught me off guard. He stated that they would not tour again until they figured out how to do so in a way that was “not only sustainable, but also actively beneficial” to the environment.
By the next day, his remarks had made headlines all over the world.
Two years later, I’m sitting with the singer on the 15th floor of a restaurant with a view of London’s rooftops. He has requested to speak with me as Coldplay announces the end of their self-imposed tour ban, with their first tour in four and a half years.
“Well, last time we spoke, I sort of made that up while we were talking, because I was trying to think of something cool to say,” he laughs. Then it became a bit of a headline. And then we realised, “Well, that’s exactly how we feel.”
He describes how, in the days that followed, the band began to be contacted by organisations and businesses with ideas and offers to help them achieve their goals. Within a few weeks, they had hired two full-time employees to work on figuring out how to make it happen.
As a result, today’s 12-point action plan was created.
“We’re not there yet,” Martin admits, “but we’re a lot closer than we would have been if you hadn’t asked those questions.”
Martin stated in 2019 that he would be “disappointed” if their next tour was not carbon neutral.
According to the group’s sustainability plan, the 2022 tour, which will conclude in Glasgow next August, will have 50% lower carbon dioxide emissions than the 2016/17 tour but will “still have a significant carbon footprint.”
They will, however, “draw down more CO2 than the tour produces by supporting projects focused on reforestation, rewilding, conservation, soil regeneration, carbon capture/storage, and renewable energy.”
“We wouldn’t be announcing a tour unless we felt like we’re far enough along that it’s OK in our hearts,” Martin explained, “but we’re definitely not finished.”
Among the other measures in their plan are:
- The tour itinerary will minimise air travel, with sustainable aviation fuel used where flying is unavoidable
- Venues will be asked to use best environmental practices like installing aerated taps and low-flushing toilets to prevent water wastage
- The set will be built with materials picked for their environmental credentials, like bamboo
- Effects like lasers and lighting have been modified to be more energy efficient
- The LED wristbands worn by audience members will be made from 100% compostable, plant-based materials and will be reused every night
- An app will let fans plan their journeys to and from the show with lowest possible emissions, and they’ll get a discount code to use at the venue if they commit to low-carbon travel
Julie’s Bicycle’s Chiara Badiali, who advises the music industry on sustainability, said she was “very encouraged to see this level of commitment and a plan as comprehensive as the one they have put together.”
She stated: “They have examined every aspect of the tour. I believe that the decision to test the battery technology will make a significant difference.” When it comes to changing the way the live music industry operates, we have some ideas. However, we don’t always know what will work. Transformation is always a process of trial and error.
“So a band going out and taking those risks and trying those things out, as well as being very open and sharing those things, will help the entire industry in the long run.”