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Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja on climate change

No stranger to activism, founding member of Massive Attack, Robert Del Naja has often been critical of the British government's policies as well as international concerns. He has voiced his support for organisations such as Reprieve, who campaign for human rights, War Child, a charity that supports children affected by war, and the Occupy movement, which focused on social inequality. Since 2018, Massive Attack have been supporting controversial climate change organisation Extinction Rebellion.

In 2019, Robert Del Naja announced that Massive Attack had partnered with the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research based at the University of Manchester, which seeks to explore the impact that the music industry has on climate change. The research concentrates on calculating the carbon footprint of touring, including factors such as production, merchandising and travel, with the goal of outlining a decarbonisation roadmap that other touring musicians can adhere to.

To support their work with the Tyndall Centre, Massive Attack announced a low carbon gig, set to take place in 2020. Professor Carly McLachlan, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research said of the event: “climate emergency requires rapid shifts from theory to practice. The Liverpool event offers a great opportunity to bring together the different organisations needed to really reshape the impact of live music events.”

Despite Robert’s attempt to rally fellow musicians for the cause, he is frustrated at the lack of meaningful action on environmental issues, instead seeing empty gestures from others. Speaking to the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee, he said “the industry seems to have been locked in a cycle of green pledges and carbon calculations while emission rates remain really high.”

However, Robert doesn’t think stopping touring is a solution to the problem. He criticised Coldplay’s decision to pause touring until concerts are carbon neutral, saying “culture is important, it brings everyone together. The best way is to look for solutions collectively.”

One solution that Massive Attack have implemented themselves is to tour by train. During their US tour, they managed to reduce their carbon footprint by as much as 50%. To raise awareness to their campaign for climate change, Massive Attack released a conceptual audio-visual project called Eutopia, where each track on the EP discusses a political issue. The first track features arguments in support of global system change from Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:


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