Massive Attack star: Coldplay tour halt over environment is not the answer

Robert Del Naja agrees the music industry needs to reduce its carbon footprint — but says cancelling tours and festivals is not the solution
Massive Attack star: Coldplay tour halt over environment is not the answer

Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack is urging the live music industry to take real action on the environment.  

Massive Attack's Robert Del Naja says Coldplay's decision not to launch a globe-trotting tour over environmental concerns will not "change a thing".

The star, also known as 3D, said he was "pretty livid" with the industry for making green pledges while not acting to reduce its carbon footprint.

But he told MPs that Coldplay's stance was not the answer.

One band's unilateral action is not going to change the look of the whole problem at all. One band not touring doesn't change a thing.

He told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that the music and festival sector had been "hit hard" by the pandemic.

"Bands don't need to cancel tours, and festivals don't need to cancel festivals," he said. "There are lots of different solutions across transportation - you can charter trains and buses and even get tents and luggage down to a festival in the right way, and bands can take a train themselves. There are lots of different solutions for energy and powering a festival."

Del Naja said of Coldplay: "I understand their frustration. It's a frustration all bands have been feeling for a long time."

Everyone knows that's not the solution - one band stopping touring, or even all bands stopping touring. Culture is important, it brings everyone together, and so the best way is to look for solutions collectively.

Coldplay frontman Chris Martin said in 2019 that the band will not launch a globe-trotting tour for their new album because of environmental concerns.

Del Naja said the "industry seems to be locked in a cycle of green pledges... while emission rates have remained really high".

It is an "embarrassment" that the "artist wears the climate t-shirt, waves the placard, while simultaneously operating in a high carbon, high-polluting sector," he said.

"We've become the messenger" but "the public has got the message" thanks to Sir David Attenborough documentaries, Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, so "now is the time for action - no more pledges", he said.

Bands "don't want to be greenwashing for our own industry" and the lack of action from the industry means "all of us end up looking like hypocrites", Del Naja added.

Professor Carly McLachlan, professor of climate and energy policy at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said emissions from festivals have gone up in the last five years because of a rise in audience numbers.

Festivals should take a more active role with transport operators to encourage people to ditch the car, she said.

Sites should connect to the grid if possible and think about the demand and layout and the travel of crew and artists, she added.

Massive Attack are collaborating with the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to track and reduce emissions from live events.

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