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Thom Yorke US tour
Photography Sean Evans

Thom Yorke supports Massive Attack’s calls to cut music industry emissions

‘We need infrastructure support and planning from our governments… where is it?’

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke has voiced support for Massive Attack, following the group’s latest calls on the government to help cut music industry emissions. 

Massive Attack have been campaigning to raise awareness of the climate crisis, and the music industry’s impact, for some time. Back in March, Robert Del Naja (AKA 3D) addressed MPs on environmental issues at festivals, saying at the time: “It’s been frustrating to experience the lack of meaningful activity within our sector, and as an activist, I’ve also felt pretty livid about it.”

In a new interview, Del Naja criticises the government directly, for not doing enough to reduce live music’s carbon emissions. “Where’s the industrial plan for the scale of the transformation that’s required for the UK economy and society?” he says. “It doesn’t seem to exist.”

“The live music industry, especially after Brexit, is so important to national identity and self-esteem,” he goes on, citing its “vast social and economic value” and employment opportunities. “But where is the government planning to support the rate of adaption we’re going to need to hit compatibility with (the Paris agreement)? It doesn’t seem to exist.”

Massive Attack commissioned a report on the carbon emissions from touring back in 2019, which arrived earlier this week (September 6). Responding to the results, Del Naja says: “The data is not surprising, it’s the strategy that’s missing here.”

Thom Yorke has praised the group for raising awareness about the music industry’s environmental impact on social media. “Thank you to Massive Attack for doing this,” he writes. “It has been clear for a while that the live music industry, like so many others, has to start thinking differently fast, and to do so we need infrastructure support and planning from our Governments… where is it?”

A response from the Massive Attack Twitter account points out that the group is: “Building on prior Radiohead efforts.”

Having offset their carbon emissions from touring, Massive Attack have recently become disillusioned, Del Naja goes on in the Guardian interview, seeing offsetting as “a way for fossil fuel companies to pass on the responsibility to consumers”. 

Planning future tours, the band will also follow recommendations outlined in the report, such as taking the train when possible, building sets that are easer to transport, encouraging green energy use, and employing local providers. Del Naja explains: “It was like, are we just going to go on another offset, or should we do something a little bit more interesting and radical?”