A New Era in Stadium Tours?

A New Era in Stadium Tours?

Coldplay’s “Music of the Spheres” Tour is their most sustainable yet as they commit to reducing CO2 emissions by 50%.

For many people, coming together with others to watch live music can bring moments of pure joy and a sense of shared experience.  When 240,000 people, including me, gathered in Manchester over the weekend to see Coldplay perform this also brought a significant boost to the local economy.  But what of the environmental impact…?

Coldplay Tour

Traditionally music tours have been harmful to the environment, a 2010 study (University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute) found that live concerts and performances in the UK generate 405,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.  The carbon footprint of U2’s world tour in 2009 was estimated at the equivalent of a return flight to Mars!

Having announced in 2019 that they would not continue touring due to the environmental impact, Coldplay are back with their “Music of the Spheres” world tour, aiming to be as sustainable and low-carbon as possible.
Coldplay have three key principles according to their website sustainability.coldplay.com/  

  • Reduce: reduce consumption, recycle extensively
  • Reinvent: support new green technologies and develop new sustainable, super-low carbon touring methods
  • Restore: make the tour as environmentally beneficial as possible by funding a portfolio of nature and technology-based projects

There are some ambitious and innovative initiatives in place for this tour such as the first ever mobile, rechargeable show battery developed in partnership with BMW and the use of ultra-efficient lighting and audio equipment.

For those of us in the crowd each night, the smaller changes were obvious… the stage production was powered with almost entirely renewable, super-low emission energy which for fans meant kinetic floors which captured the energy of bouncing and dancing and electricity-generating power bikes installed around the stadium for fans to actively charge the show batteries by pedalling.

Coldplay World Tour 2023

The famous LED wristbands worn by the audience, an integral part of the Coldplay experience, are made of 100% compostable, plant-based materials and collected, sterilised and recharged after every show. We were also encouraged to bring refillable water bottles to the stadium and water refill stations were provided.

As audience travel makes up a major part of the tour’s carbon emissions, fans were encouraged to use low carbon transport to and from the show.  We arrived by tram and then walked back into Manchester after the event, using the well signed city walking route which comprised roads closed to traffic and stewards to help with directions and ensure pedestrian safety.
Coldplay acknowledge that despite these efforts, the tour will still have a significant carbon footprint and have pledged to drawdown more CO2 than they produce.  A small part of this is the planting and protection of millions of new trees, including one for every ticket sold.

Coldplay Wristbands and Crowd

We had an amazing evening along with 60,000 others in the stadium, proving that small steps to sustainability can make a big environmental impact with no detrimental effect on the fan experience – in fact the whole event actually felt enhanced by these positive measures.

Whether this becomes the norm for other major stadium tours remains to be seen, watch this space…

Written by Consultant, Lynette Bentley

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