Coldplay has been branded “useful greenwashing idiots” after announcing a partnership with Finnish oil company Neste to halve its touring shows last week.
Neste claims to be the world’s largest producer of sustainable biofuels, but the company’s palm oil suppliers cleared at least 10,000 hectares (24,710 acres) of forest in countries including Indonesia and Malaysia between 2019 and 2020, according to a study by Friends of the Earth.
Carlos Calvo Ambel, senior director of the Transport and Environment (T&E) campaign group, said: “Neste is cynically using Coldplay to green its reputation. It’s a company that’s tied to the kind of deforestation that would scare Chris Martin and his fans. It’s not too late, they should abandon their partnership with Neste now and focus on truly clean solutions instead. »
The award-winning rock outfit have announced plans to reduce their touring footprint after Martin accepted a ‘backlash’ against their show record was warranted in a BBC interview last year.
One tree will be planted for every ticket sold on Coldplay’s current “Music of the Spheres” world tour, which features a kinetic dance floor and other green elements.
A statement from the band said: “When we announced this tour, we said we would do our best to make it as sustainable and low carbon impact as possible, but it would be a work in progress. It remains true. We don’t claim to have it all figured out yet.
“Before appointing Neste as the supplier of these biofuel products, we received their guarantee that they use no virgin materials in their production – especially no palm oil. We still believe that they only use renewable wastes, such as cooking oil and wood pulp by-products.
Hanna Leijala, spokesperson for Neste, insisted that the company “does not accept any breaches of sustainability in our own operations”.
“For our collaboration with Coldplay, conventional palm oil was not used as a raw material,” she said, adding, “Neste plans to reduce the share of conventional palm oil to 0% of its global renewable raw material inputs by the end of 2023.”
Currently, crude palm oil accounts for 7% of the company’s fuel inputs. Its jet fuel is a mixture of used cooking oil, animal fats and other wastes and residues.
But Neste declined to say what percentage of the jet fuel blend is palm fatty acid distillates (PFADs), citing “contractual and competitive reasons”. PFADs are considered a by-product of palm oil refining by the UK, Germany and most EU countries, but not by Finland.
T&E argues it’s ‘dubious’ to consider used cooking oil sustainable as studies suggest most EU supplies are imports from countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and China. China. Higher EU prices for used cooking oil are incentivizing tampering and EU auditors have criticized Europe’s ability to verify the source of these imports.
The use of animal fats also raises the issue of agricultural methane emissions, as most fats come from industrial agriculture., says T&E.
Coldplay’s world tour has been criticized separately for its collaboration with BMW, which provides 40 rechargeable electric vehicle batteries to power the shows.
BMW is an influential lobbyist for the German automotive industry, according to a report by Influence Map.
“Coldplay has been taken for a ride,” said Eoin Dubsky, senior campaign manager of Sum Of Us. were able to use Coldplay.”
The group’s statement said they had approached other electric car makers but “it was BMW who offered to help.”
“We have no ties to or influence over their corporate policies,” the statement continued. “We just need their batteries to be able to power our shows with renewable energy.”
“We do our best and always sincerely appreciate suggestions on how to do it better,” the band said.
Dubsky was sympathetic to their predicament. “Not many rock bands hire a sustainability consultant, so give them a thumbs up,” he said. “But I think they should be more careful when doing due diligence,” he added.