British band Coldplay have been called “useful idiots for greenwashing” after teaming up with Finnish biofuel company Neste to cut tour emissions.
The move is part of the band’s ongoing efforts to orchestrate a ‘sustainable’ tour after they took a break from touring last album citing environmental concerns.
Amidst more gimmicky inclusions like a ‘kinetic floor’ that generates electricity from the movement of fans, the band also pledged to more serious goals like powering the tour by 100% renewable energy and cutting direct GHG emissions by 50%.
Neste will provide Coldplay with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to help reduce air travel emissions, while the company’s renewable diesel will help cut emissions from the band’s tour transports and stage power generation.
Despite this, campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E) are urging the band to call off the partnership, alleging that Neste has “documented links to deforestation and dubious biofuels”. The group also claimed that Neste’s sustainable fuels are “based on used cooking oil” and that the company has a track record of sourcing from “palm oil mills linked to deforestation”.
Commenting on the partnership, T&E’s senior director Carlos Calvo Ambel told The Guardian: “Neste is cynically using Coldplay to greenwash its reputation. This is a company that is linked to the kind of deforestation that would appal Chris Martin and his fans. It’s not too late, they should drop their partnership with Neste now and focus on truly clean solutions instead.”
“Coldplay’s commitment to reduce its emissions is no doubt well-intentioned. But teaming up with a company linked to deforestation makes them useful idiots for greenwashing.”
Both Coldplay and Neste have refuted the allegations, however, insisting that only “renewable waste products” and no “virgin materials” (such as palm oil) are used in the firm’s operations.
A spokesperson for Neste said: “For our collaboration with Coldplay, conventional palm oil or other virgin vegetable oils were not used as raw materials for the supplied renewable fuels,” adding that the company “has developed a robust system to ensure its renewable products, and the raw materials it uses in its production, always meet the legal sustainability requirements set by local authorities in our markets.”
The band have also responded to the backlash, saying that: “When we announced this tour, we said that we would try our best to make it as sustainable and low carbon-impact as possible, but that it would be a work in progress. That remains true. We don’t claim to have got it all right yet.”