U2 2019 tour: Band pays tribute to Greta Thunberg while leaving massive carbon footprint

With U2's 2019 New Zealand concerts completed, the band has taken to the skies and flown off, leaving in their wake questions about the tour's environmental impact.

The ever popular rockers performed at Auckland's Mount Smart Stadium on Friday and Saturday as part of their The Joshua Tree Tour 2019.

Everything about U2's live concerts is big - the stage, the screen, the crowd, their aircraft, and their carbon footprint, too.

U2's Boeing 757 VIP aircraft leaving Auckland after The Joshua Tree Tour concert in Auckland.
U2's Boeing 757 departing Auckland Photo credit: Instagram/nickspotsaviation

The band and singer Bono specifically have recently faced criticism from environmentalists who claim the grand tour is at odds with their mantra to save the world.

As U2 paid tribute to Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg in Auckland, their two huge aircraft sat nearby fuelled up at the airport.

The band itself travels in a VIP Boeing 757 that's owned by corporate travel charter company Jet Magic. It can carry as many as 50 passengers and has bedrooms with ensuites onboard.

U2 Pay tribute to Greta Thunberg and Emma González during Auckland performance of their The Joshua Tree 2019 Tour.
U2 Pay tribute to iconic women, including Greta Thunberg. Photo credit: Newshub.

The aircraft, which currently sports Joshua Tree Tour 2019 livery, was photographed leaving Auckland Airport on Sunday.

On top of the 757, the band's 390-tonne stage is transported on a separate Emirates Boeing 777 cargo aircraft, which was also in Auckland over the weekend.

A company called carbonfootprint.com estimates U2 and their aircraft would travel a distance of 112,000km over the 18 month tour.

Emirates Cargo plane at Auckland International Airport carrying stage gear for U2's The Joshua Tree Tour 2019.
Emirates Cargo aircraft carrying U2 concert gear. Photo credit: Instagram/nickspotsaviation

Carbonfootprint.com said the 65,000 tonnes of carbon emissions created by the band's tour compare poorly with tours from other global acts.

It says despite an entourage of more than 250 staff, Madonna's tour produced just 1635 tonnes of carbon.

A spokesperson for the company said the band's tour emissions were the equivalent of using an electrical device to listen to Rattle and Hum on repeat for 150,000 years.