Get on your bike: Coldplay hopes to lead green journey

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s often said that fans of live concerts rock the band. Coldplay wants to really take advantage of this.

Pop superstars have added a dynamic dance floor and energy storage stationary bikes to their latest world tour, encouraging fans to power the show while they dance or spin.

This is part of a larger effort to make tourism greener. The band – whose songs include the aptly titled “Higher Power” – pledged to be as sustainable and low-carbon as possible, hoping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent.

“You don’t want to give the impression of being too serious. These things are fun, too,” bassist Guy Berryman said. “That’s the way it works, and if people see it less as a burdensome responsibility and more as an opportunity to do something fun, it’s good for the environment and the whole concert experience.”

Each dynamic dance floor can hold dozens of people, and when they move, an electric current is generated. Fueled by House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” the band competed before the show to see which group of fans would generate the most power.

Each bike — at least 15, but can be scaled up depending on the size of the venue — can generate an average of 200 watts of energy, which is captured in the batteries that run the show’s elements.

Coldplay is just one musical performance dedicated to reducing the impact of the climate footprint on tour, including Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, The Lumineers, Dave Matthews Band, Shawn Mendes, Maroon 5, John Mayer, Lorde, The Chicks, Jason Isbell and 1975 year.

“A musician’s relationship with millions of fans is unlike any other relationship with any other public figure. It can be a walking, talking example,” said Adam Gardner, founder and co-executive director Reverb, a nonprofit that helps bands make their concerts greener.

Artists reflect the overall push in entertainment, from sports teams to toy makers, to reduce their carbon footprints. A study by Live Nation found that 82% of live music lovers say they strive to maintain an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

“Being green is not a charitable self-flagellation, holier-than-thou movement. It’s a great business model. That’s what we want to show,” said Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. Added guitarist Jonny Buckland: “It has to work.”

These efforts span everything from providing more plant-based food options in franchises and eliminating single-use plastics to rethinking transportation — the greenest aspect of the tour — for musicians and fans alike in this way.

Eilish has pledged to eliminate around 35,000 single-use water bottles on her tour, and only offers vegetarian food backstage. Massive Attack travels by train, and Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Sour’ item is sustainably dyed and made from 100% organic cotton.

Mendes has committed to reducing the environmental impact and emissions of his tours by 50%, using sustainable fabrics in hoodies and t-shirts on tour, staying at hotels that promise net-zero emissions, eliminating plastic and using renewable energy sources. Sustained aviation fuel. Styles’ recent tour featured a battery recycling center and donated unused hotel toiletries to shelters.

Coldplay plans to minimise air travel – but when flying is required, the band will opt for commercial rather than charter flights – and will use trains and electric vehicles wherever possible. The trucks will use alternative fuels such as hydrotreated vegetable oil.

“We’ve looked at every aspect of the show because there isn’t one thing you can do that makes a significant difference overall. Basically, all these changes you make add up to be more impressive overall, “Berryman said. “Hopefully it will have a ripple effect across our industry.”

The “Music of the Spheres” tour stage uses recycled steel, and the band hopes to deploy the world’s first touring battery system, made from 40 repurposed and recyclable BMW electric vehicle batteries. The hope is to run the entire show on batteries, no grid or diesel generators needed.

“We were very lucky that we had the resources to do this because trying these things the first time was very expensive,” Martin said. “We are very honored that we are in a position where we can change.”

There are also biodegradable confetti, compostable wristbands for spectators, the use of solar panels and a backstage generator powered by vegetable oil. All band merchandise is sustainably and ethically sourced, and 10% of the tour’s net proceeds will go to environmental organizations such as Ocean Cleanup and One Tree Plantation.

“We’re trying to do it in a very pragmatic and pragmatic way so we’re not considered left-wing lunatics. But it’s pretty centrist and pragmatic,” Martin said.

Coldplay drummer Will Champion said the new green tech could be helpful to other bands just starting out on tour, and hoped that all musical performances could share experiences of what worked and what didn’t.

“The more this happens and the more people come forward with new ideas, the sooner it becomes the industry standard,” he said. “When it’s a no-brainer because the cost is the same or lower than the traditional way, that’s when the floodgates open, and then we make big changes.”

But change has not always been smooth sailing. Coldplay has been accused of “greenwashing” for its partnership with Neste, which claims to be the world’s largest producer of sustainable biofuels.

The Brussels-based environmental group Transport and Environment said Nestor “documented links to deforestation and questionable biofuels” such as palm oil or its by-products. However, Neste responded that Coldplay did not use “traditional palm oil” as a “raw material” in the cooperation and hoped to stop using traditional palm oil by 2023.

“They’re doing their best,” said Carlos Calvo Ambel, senior director of transportation and the environment, of Coldplay, “but maybe they’re picking the wrong consultant.”

Reverb has been helping bands navigate the complexities of going green since 2004, offering everything from free water stations to sourcing local organic and family farm food near the venue. The nonprofit has helped avoid 4 million single-use water bottles since its inception.

“Our philosophy is that it’s not all or nothing. I think if we force people to do everything at the same time, most of them will choose nothing,” said Gardner, who is also a member of his band touring musician Gust.

“Some of the artists we work with are ready to go all out, while others are working on things they can change right away. I think the most important thing is to get started.”

Coldplay doesn’t just commit to reducing its carbon footprint. It also encourages its audience to do the same on their way to the venue.

There’s a free app for fans that counts and ranks the different ways to get to a concert – including car, public transport, taxi, bike and train – and offers merchandise for those who promise greener travel Rewards such as discounts. The band also hopes to offer free local public transportation to fans in the US and Europe.

“Everything on our show is about bringing everyone together in the same group, singing together and wearing wristbands. It’s just an extension of it. It makes us feel alive. It makes us feel like part of a community ,” Martin said.


Mark Kennedy in

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