EV lobby group hits out at Coldplay over biofuel tour deal

11 May 2022

Quantum Commodity Intelligence - British pop band Coldplay has come under fire from green groups by teaming up with the world’s largest renewable fuels producer Neste to cut its emissions to enable it to restart touring again.

The band, whose lead singer Chris Martin said he had the ambition to create “the perfect song for the world”, stopped touring in 2019 until it said it could find a “more sustainable” way of playing its melodies to packed stadia in the US and around the world.

Last week the band said its upcoming “Music of the Spheres World Tour” would now be 50% less carbon-intensive after its deal with Finnish producer Neste to supply it with hydrotreated vegetable oil to transport the band’s equipment and power its sets, as well as deliver sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to fly the band in a more eco-friendly way between 29 venues.

But Brussels-based environmental group Transport and Environment (T&E) on Wednesday slammed the band for not highlighting where the feedstocks to make the biofuel are coming from.

It said either palm oil waste, used cooking oil shipped around the world or animal fats, typical feedstocks for SAF and renewable diesel, were not sustainable.

The band ended its touring hiatus earlier this year, playing at Dubai's delayed Expo 2020 in February.  

The band said in a statement ahead of the concert: “As a band, we always try to put togetherness and sustainability at the heart of everything we do.” 


Carlos Calvo Ambel, senior director at T&E, which lobbies for electric vehicles instead of greater biofuel use, said: “Neste is cynically using Coldplay to greenwash its reputation. ... Coldplay should drop their partnership with Neste now and focus on truly clean solutions instead.”

The band, whose smash hits include Fix You and Yellow and whose concerts are characterised by the audience holding cigarette lighters and phones in the air, said in a statement that it had received a guarantee from Neste that they did not use virgin oils in their renewable diesel, including palm oil.

“It’s still our understanding that they use renewable waste products only, like cooking oil and byproducts from wood pulp manufacture,” the band said.

Neste issued a statement on Wednesday saying no conventional palm oil or virgin vegetable oil were used as raw materials for the SAF supplied, although it acknowledged animal fats and used cooking oil are part of its supply more broadly.

Neste said 92% of its raw material came from waste and residue oils and fats in 2021, but it declined to say how much was from PFAD, waste from the palm oil production process.

Coldplay have long been associated with environmental movements, promising to plant a tree for every ticket sold for its upcoming tour, but the band has also been criticised as hypocrites for using private jets.

Their singer, Chris Martin, is a lapsed vegetarian.

Referring to Neste’s purchase of Dutch animal fat trader IH Demeter, T&E said: “There are enough issues with Neste to scare Chris Martin away.”