Pop in the Climate Crisis: Coldplay: Between Sustainability and Greenwashing | music | Culture stage BR

It doesn’t matter if it’s an oil company, federal government or an artist: anyone who wants to look good in public today is always committed to sustainability – despite any business conflicts of interest. And by the end of 2019, it was clear that Chris Martin, king of the pathos of late capitalist stadium rock, is not necessarily modest. At that time, he and his band Coldplay promised, coincidentally on the exact day of the new album’s release: “We’ll take the next year or two to find out how our tour can be not only sustainable but also useful. he would be disappointed if he were not carbon neutral. ”

And even if Martin’s pop program to improve the world is as scattered in its reflections as the work of the Shell sustainability officer, it was quite a tangible announcement: no tour across dozens of continents, no gigantic 32 truck scene, no Orgie pyrotechnic confetti. , no disposable LED wristbands for viewers until the sustainability issue is resolved.

Show what’s possible

Now, two years and a pandemic later, Coldplay is playing concerts in Frankfurt and Berlin. And of course, the question arises as to whether the team has kept their 2019 promise. In the ZDF lecture, you could admire the effects of several years of ecological search for sense: a pyrotechnic sea of ​​flames, flashing LEDs in the hands of the audience, Chris Martin jumping on a stage, which consists of, among others, one big screen and at the same time singing “Higher Power”. After these photos you can find out where this mysterious power is supposed to come from: A tiny propeller circulates on the traverse of the stage, which uses wind energy to generate electricity before the concert. We see solar panels and children at bicycles that are bolted on, and their enormous strength also improves the energy balance of the concert. Beside them, a small group of people who jump and dance to recharge the batteries of the “kinetic dance floor” and we learn that the LED strips are now made of parts of a compostable material – and are even reused!

While Martin describes this Coldplay tour in a post as an “exhibition of new ideas,” this little gadget show felt like a more dated remix from the early 1900s when it was still believed that the global climate crisis was due to waste segregation and Buying a bamboo toothbrush could be done quite freely at home. The ZDF report ends enthusiastically with the words: “Coldplay, show me what’s possible!”

Goodwill counts

That’s right, at least they are doing something you might say. Even if not everything is perfect yet, good green is important, and not playing any concerts at all for environmental reasons would not be a solution either. But if you take a closer look, you’ll find that Coldplay has not only clearly missed its ambitious goal of climate neutrality, but is also apparently making every effort to provide climate-destroying actors with a green image. To reduce emissions, the team teamed up with Finnish oil company Neste. It claims to be the largest producer of biofuels. In turn, Coldplay reports on its website that cooperation with Neste generates 50 percent. fewer emissions than previous routes.

According to a study by the environmental organization Milieudefensie, Neste worked with palm oil suppliers to produce its fabrics, cutting more than 10,000 hectares of rainforest in Indonesia and Malaysia in 2019 and 2020. Coldplay talks about a transaction that targets only fuels from waste – although the actual composition of the substance cannot be verified and, if in doubt, waste from palm oil production can also be considered a sustainable recycling product.

An expert from a European transport and environmental NGO criticized this ultimately rather opaque collaboration with Neste in May: “Coldplay’s commitment to reducing emissions is obviously honorable, but working with a company that has something to do with deforestation makes them useful idiots to its green space. washing “.

Make the Earth cool again

Another company that, apart from Coldplay stadiums and promotional texts, is not known as a climate friend: BMW. The batteries in the bicycles and the parquet pads are from a Bavarian car manufacturer, that’s 40 used storage boxes from the electric i3 model. The team thanked the audience for this, saying that BMW technology would help “handle their live performances almost entirely using renewable energy.” As with Neste, the BMW name appears on the Coldplay website, and the company itself speaks of a “long-term partnership” with Coldplay that will help the manufacturer “make everything we do as sustainable as possible.”

In the 2021 promotional video, you can see BMW electric SUVs driving between people wearing a “Make Earth Cool Again” T-shirt, with the “Higher Power” soundtrack by Coldplay. The text seems to have been written for a spot: “This joy is electrifying and you jump. I’m so glad to be living at the same time as you. “But who knows: maybe this” higher horsepower “also represents the concentrated lobbying force that BMW wanted to prevent a Europe-wide end to internal combustion engines in 2035.

“The most important thing is that we try our best,” says Chris Martin in the ZDF report. When in doubt, it may even be true. Perhaps the next two-year break from Coldplay’s tour should focus on something else: humility.

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