Skip to main content
sustainability

The power to drive change

Tim Collett, head of events at WRG, a division of The Creative Engagement Group, says small differences have the power to drive huge changes.

With just under two weeks to go before COP26, tackling climate change - or the lack of efforts to do so, is under the spotlight. Even the Queen has waded in on the debate, with reports outlining Her Majesty’s frustration at leaders’ lack of action on the issue.

So it was refreshing to see the events industry making a stand, with Coldplay’s recent announcement of its eco-friendly world tour, which aims to be powered by 'renewable, super-low emission' energy. Coldplay has said that each performance will partly be powered by bicycles and a kinetic dancefloor that generates electricity when attendees jump up and down, which sounds fun but there’s a deafening roar of efficacy doubters already stiring.

The important thing to note is that the intent is there, and a solution has been put forward. Often, we look at big challenges and the urge to say, ‘if we can’t solve it all, then why bother trying?’ is so strong. But if we don’t try, then we achieve nothing. If our expectations are too ambitious, or all talk and no action, then ultimately, we will disappoint.

In Coldplay’s case, it has inevitably been criticised for its double standards - as the band’s frontman Chris Martin says he fully expects. Social media has been awash with backlash calling out Coldplay’s hypocrisy, as the band has openly admitted that it will be flying to different destinations on its eco-world tour in private (gas-guzzling) jets.

So here’s the thing. A little change can go a long way, it is the small things that can often make a bigger impact overall and pave the way for more fundamental ones. And the events sector can play a massive role in putting these actions in place. As an industry, we pride ourselves on bringing people together, to create shared experiences that enrich our lives for the better. It’s this collective ‘people power’ that Coldplay is calling on to help make events greener.

The recent Earthshot prize winners’ event, held in London, could also teach us a thing or two. Of course, with its aim to ‘reward those who repair the planet’, Earthshot has a duty to be as green as possible. Guests were asked to come dressed bearing the environment in mind (attendees recycled or repurposed previously seen outfits - a straightforward ask that was easy and cost-effective to fulfil), and there was also a ban on celebrities flying in for the event. Coldplay also performed - perhaps as a warm-up or to test the viability for their world tour, with their set powered by 60 cyclists (they will certainly need a lot more for the global tour).

What this event underlined is that actions, however small, can effect change when they are meaningful and personal and often these actions require little effort. But when taken together, they can have a profound impact.

So when you are planning your next event, consider the small changes you can make, the small ask you can suggest that can result in a big return. It may have taken Coldplay two years to find a way to make its tours eco-friendly, and it might take some pretty fast pedalling and hundreds of fans jumping non-stop to realise Chris Martin’s pledge.

But it shows us that small differences - which we can all make, can have the power to drive huge changes.