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On the road again?

This week, we’d like to share with you an event that is a little different from the previous ones. Still an “event”, but taken as the “marker of a rupture”, which defines a “before” and an “after”. At least that’s what we hope.

Riddle us this: what do the Coldplay and Massive Attack groups have in common, beyond the fact that they are both British? You guessed it, their concern for the environment. Just a few days apart, Coldplay and Massive Attack announced that they wanted to make a radical shift in the way they conduct their tours in order to reduce their environmental impact.

Coldplay thus suspended the promotion of its new album via tours “for one or two years”, while Massive Attack, after considering the same decision, decided instead to work with the University of Manchester, hand in hand with the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research. The idea? Share with them all the information related to their next tour, in order to draw up a strategy more in line with the urgent challenges presented by climate change. Although the strategies are different, the goal remains the same in both cases.

It is often forgotten, but a tour is not limited to transporting the band and its team from one side of the world to the other. In addition, it is necessary to take into account the transport of each spectator, the necessary energy consumption for lighting and sound, the pollution generated at the concert or festival venue (plastics and waste of all kinds), etc. A tremendous weight, considering the number of events of this type that take place every day around the world.

By collecting information and analyzing the emissions generated, directly and indirectly, during a tour, the two groups hope not only to adopt measures that drastically reduce their carbon footprint but also to share these good practices with the rest of the entertainment industry and even inspire other producers and groups to follow their example. In his statement, musician Robert del Naja, spokesman of Massive Attack, clearly stated that the position that has prevailed until now in this sector as in others is compensation, and he clearly defines its limits:

“The concept of offsetting creates an illusion that high-carbon activities enjoyed by wealthier individuals can continue, by transferring the burden of action and sacrifice to others—generally those in the poorer nations in the southern hemisphere. Evidence suggests that offset programs can wreak serious havoc for the often voiceless indigenous and rural communities who have done the least to create the problem.”

Massive Attack and Coldplay seem to send a clear message: the escaping from responsibility era is over. It is no longer a question of “compensating” or putting bandages on a hemorrhage: the climate emergency requires fundamental changes in everyone’s ways of acting and setting an example. They are certainly not the first to have thought about it: for example in Quebec there has been a Quebec Council for Eco-Responsible Events1 since 2008. As its name suggests, this non-profit organization’s mission is to train and support the organization of eco-responsible events, from waste management and recycling to energy management and community involvement: “Support key players in the event sector to reduce environmental impacts and enhance the positive social and economic impacts of events.”, such is the vision defended by the group.

You might be wondering where the novelty of Massive Attack and Coldplay’s decision is. The novelty actually lies not in the decision itself to reduce environmental impact but rather in the fact that it is being taken to a level never seen before. Whether we appreciate their music or not, these are two world-famous groups, whose fame gives a special aura and impact to each of their actions.

Some may see a publicity stunt but if it is balanced by real long-term measures and if it snowballs, thanks to the notoriety of those who initiate them, then we applaud it with both hands.

  1. Conseil Québécois des événements écoresponsables 

Tags: Climate, Ecology