Radiohead frontman launches carbon campaign

03 March 2008

Thom Yorke is the frontman for a Friends of the Earth campaign calling on 17 countries as well as the European Union to sign up to legally binding, year-on-year targets for reducing emissions.

Mr Yorke has been an ambassador for the green campaign group since 2005 when he called for stronger legislation in Britain to lower emissions. “You have a certain amount of credit you can cash in with your celebrity and I’m cashing the rest of my chips in with this,” he said, immediately provoking scrutiny of his own carbon footprint as Radiohead conducted a world tour.

An assessment by the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management concluded that the launch of the band’s album Hail to the Thief and subsequent concerts would have resulted in emissions 7,581 tons of CO2, the equivalent of a year’s worth of emissions from 1,400 cars.

It was estimated that 50,000 trees with a life span of 100 years would be required to off-set the pollution.

Since then Mr Yorke has pledged to reduce the band’s carbon footprint. Radiohead now sends equipment abroad by ship and offsets emissions by planting trees. The music magazine NME recently placed the band amongst the industry’s lowest polluters: the highest polluter among the small number of musicians the magazine surveyed appeared to be the environmentalist Sting, thanks to a reunion stadium tour with The Police.

Since then too, Friends of the Earth claims that its 2005 UK campaign has helped to secure the Climate Change Bill which made the UK the first country to set such legally binding targets for green house gases.

The group now wants the similar targets in countries across Europe, and more stringent emissions targets of at least 30 per cent reductions by 2020 and 90 per cent by 2050 to be adopted by the EU.

Launching the campaign, alongside Stavros Dimas, the EU environment commissioner, Mr Yorke said: “We will never wake from the nightmare of climate change unless our national governments and the European Union act. They are the only ones who can put the structures in place that will help us tackle climate change.”

He said that annual cuts in emissions “at a national and European level” would ensure the continent played its part in tackling climate change, as well as setting “an example to the rest of the world to follow”.

Martin Rocholl, chairman of the European branch of Friends of the Earth said that annual targets were needed because it was currently “too easy for governments to ignore long term targets on climate change”.

“Annual targets will make today’s and tomorrow’s politicians accountable for cutting emissions,” he said.

Friends of the Earth groups in the 17 countries where the campaign will run were each marking the launch in their own way. In Finland 22 towns were hosting ‘snowman rallies’, while outside the Parliament building in the Netherlands, campaigners were constructing a dyke.


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