Green giants: Radiohead’s way forward
Last year, Radiohead commissioned and paid for a study carried out by UK analysts Best Foot Forward to examine two of the band’s recent tours and to work out how to reduce their carbon footprint.
“Touring is very important to us, a large part of the joy and passion of what we do, and we are committed to finding more responsible ways of doing it,” the band state on their website.
Radiohead asked for a comparison of two different US tours they had been on – an out-of-town amphitheatre tour in 2003 and a smaller, city-centre theatre tour in 2006.
“We made recommendations about how they could reduce their own and their fans’ carbon footprint,” says Simon Miller, the consultant who co-ordinated the project.
The research found fan travel and consumption made up 86 per cent of the theatre tour’s footprint and 97 per cent of the amphitheatre tour’s.
The amphitheatre show had a more detrimental impact because food was available at these shows and more fans drove.
For the big shows, Best Foot Forward’s report showed that if just 10 per cent of car users had travelled by bus, it would have reduced CO2 emissions by 7 per cent.
“Many [fans] were travelling by car to the concerts, so Radiohead agreed to restructure future tours and appear at city-centre venues that are better served by public transport,” says Miller.
While Miller admits it was “very difficult” to develop an energy-efficient tour, Radiohead agreed to a number of initiatives, including freighting their equipment by sea instead of by air and buying two sets of equipment (one each for the US and Europe) to cut travel costs.
Best Foot Forward also recommended that the band use chartered trains for personal and freight transport, instead of trucks and coaches – a move that would reduce the carbon impact in this area by 95 per cent.
While the recommendations Best Foot Forward made to Radiohead could be used as a template by other touring bands, Miller says that the company has not yet been approached by any of their peers.
“It’s a pity because bands are in a unique position to influence people, more so than governments.”
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