Coldplay wants to cut touring emissions, but experts say they’re greenwashing

Environmental activists say Finish oil company Neste is too polluting
Coldplay wants to cut touring emissions, but experts say they’re greenwashing

Neil Briscoe

Legendary pop band Coldplay is about to embark on a world tour, called the Music Of The Spheres tour.

Famously, in 2019 (and wasn’t that good timing…) Coldplay announced that it would not go on tour unless it could find ways to do so in an environmentally-friendly way.

Well, that way seemed found when Coldplay announced that it would team up with Finish oil company Neste, which would supply renewable and low-carbon fuels for the band’s aircraft, and for the trucks hauling the concert equipment.

Neste claims that it “is uniquely positioned to supply Coldplay with the necessary volume of renewable fuels – produced from 100 renewable renewable raw materials, such as used cooking oil – to reduce emissions from the North American and European legs of the Music Of The Spheres World Tour.”

The Finish company says that its ‘sustainable aviation fuel’ can reduce the emissions of a flight by up to 80 per cent. Overall, Coldplay claims that it can reduce the overall carbon impact of its tour by as much as 50 per cent.

“We're really happy to partner with Neste to make our Music Of The Spheres World Tour as sustainable as possible. Their low-emission renewable fuels will play a major part in our efforts to minimise the tour’s climate impact,“ Coldplay says.

“We’ve tried to put sustainability at the centre of this tour because it just feels like the only option,” says Coldplay’s Chris Martin.

However, environmental experts say that Coldplay is — possibly naively — indulging in ‘greenwashing’ as Neste’s fuel isn’t half so eco-friendly as it claims.

“Neste has a track record of scandals, including sourcing from palm oil mills linked to deforestation. They do not release much information on the feedstocks they use to create biofuels, but are among the largest users of crude palm oil and also palm oil derivatives.

"Their sustainable fuels are also based on used cooking oil (UCO). With half of the EU’s UCO supplies being imported – mostly from China, Indonesia and Malaysia – there are serious questions as to whether this kitchen waste is truly ‘used’,” senior director at evironmental think-tank Transport & Environment, Carlos Calvo Ambel said.

“Another key feedstock for Neste are animal fats, mostly sourced from industrial animal farming. To secure supplies Neste bought the company Demeter, one of Europe’s major traders of such fats. There are enough issues with Neste to scare Chris Martin away for sure.

“Neste is cynically using Coldplay to greenwash its reputation. This is a company that is linked to the kind of deforestation that would appall Chris Martin and his fans. It’s not too late. Coldplay should drop their partnership with Neste now and focus on truly clean solutions instead.”

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