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Coldplay: the environmental footprint?

Yesterday I was lucky enough to go and see Coldplay in Cardiff on their Music of the Spheres World Tour! The concert was spectacular as you can imagine, and the reviews great but what was most striking for me was the environmental messaging, which came as a surprise (shhh, don't tell anyone, but I didn't know a lot about Coldplay until this week - must be my age! I am now a convert with Fix You as an earworm!)

Anyway, between the acts, the big screen showed films of projects that are being supported by the proceeds of the (rather expensive!) tickets. 10% of the band's earnings go into a good causes fund, for environmentally and socially-conscious projects, such as ClientEarth and The Ocean Clean Up. A tree is planted for every ticket sold (potentially 1.5 million for this world tour), and the show was powered by 100% renewable electricity. There were people dancing and cycling to generate electricity during the evening, again raising awareness of the possibilities of action for the environment. The wristbands are compostable and reusable, the confetti biodegradeable, and less harmful chemicals in the pyrotechnics. Chris Martin even travelled by train from Manchester to Cardiff for the show to promote sustainable transport - surprising the other commuters!

The concert was amazing! 2 hours of joy, great music, time with special people and a reminder how important it is to be willing and open to try new experiences!

On my return home, I looked up the band's website to find out more. And I was impressed with their stance:

"We are 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 all the help we've had so far."

I am heartened to read that phrase 'we won't get everything right'. Coldplay were criticised for having Neste as one of their sponsors. They are providing 'sustainable aviation fuel' for the band's international travel. Neste are a Finnish mining company who claim to be leaders in the business of climate change but are accused of greenwashing, and in fact are responsible for considerable deforestation. But they did so many good things on the night. The venue, the Millennium Stadium, is also becoming more environmentally aware. For example, I was cross initially as all plastic bottles were confiscated on arrival, generating a huge amount of waste, but free water was available in paper cups inside and the drinks and food were in plastic-free packaging. Things are changing.

We didn't get everything right on the day, although we did try. Our aim was to travel by train, but when we couldn't get hotel rooms for the group (well, we could have, but we decided we couldn't afford the extortionate prices being asked), we then discovered that the train would have taken 7 hours, rather than the 3 hours it takes during the day, and arrive the following morning after several hours sat on Bristol station! That is if we were able to catch it given the huge queues expected. So we opted to drive - persuading ourselves that it was the next best option given that there were 5 of us car-sharing. We chose to park and walk (rather than park and ride) which we know would take us longer but it worked out well. That is until we tried to get out of Cardiff after the concert - along with thousands of other cars. Gridlock. All with engines running as we crawled out towards the motorway, conscious of all the pollution being generated. So, Chris and friends, like you we try to be as sustainable as possible, and we don't get everything right!

Here is a link to Chris Martin talking about this approach and also here is more information about what we can do and advice from Friends of the Earth about how to live sustainably and be a conscious consumer. Chris has given me the encouragement to speak out more, to spread the environmental message, and to keep trying my best to counter some of the damage that my Global North lifestyle is doing to the planet.

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