Stars rock climate change concerts around the world


LONDON -- Many of the world's biggest pop stars performed at Live Earth concerts around the globe on Saturday to try to persuade fans and governments to go green.

Tens of thousands of people poured into venues in Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hamburg to hear Linkin Park, Rihanna, Shakira, Crowded House, Kumi Koda and others, while former U.S. Vice President Al Gore appealed for action on climate change.

Genesis, Razorlight and Snow Patrol kicked off the event at London's Wembley Stadium, leading a star-studded cast there including Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Spinal Tap, who will play before an expected 70,000 crowd.

Following the model of Live Aid in 1985 and Live 8 in 2005, Live Earth hopes to reach up to 2 billion people through radio, television and the Internet. Songs were interspersed with short videos about climate change and how to slow it.

"This is something that is going to live beyond us, go past us," said rapper Xzibit, speaking in Japan.

"When my son and the rest of the world's children inherit the Earth, I want them to have something they can hold on to, not something that's falling apart, on the brink."

Gore addressed a small event in Washington, where he outlined the seven-point pledge he wants people to take, binding them to cut carbon emissions and lobby governments and employers to do more to save the planet.

"We are excited to share this historic day with some fantastic musicians who are also deeply committed to using their voices and their talents to raise awareness about the climate crisis and how to solve it," he said.

Gore hopes the concerts will be the start of a three- to five-year campaign to promote awareness of climate change.

He wants Live Earth viewers to pressure leaders to sign a new treaty by 2009 that would cut global warming pollution by 90 percent in rich nations and more than half worldwide by 2050.

There is widespread cynicism among music fans, campaigners and fellow rockers about the role of pop music, renowned for Learjets and limousines, to promote green living.

"The last thing the planet needs is a rock concert," The Who's Roger Daltrey said earlier this year. Bob Geldof, the man behind Live Aid and Live 8, argues the world is already aware of global warming and the event lacked a "final goal."

But concert goers defended the gigs.

"Anything that gives it greater awareness is a positive thing," said Gareth Bush, a 39-year-old hotelier in London. "If 50 percent of the people here go home and change a lightbulb, then that's got to be good. We need to keep the momentum going."

And the Shanghai gig was seen as key to Live Earth's success, after the International Energy Agency said China could become the top emitter of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, as early as this year, a claim disputed by officials.

In Japan, visitors were asked how they came to the concert, whether by public transport or by car, part of an effort by organizers to limit the "carbon footprint" of Live Earth.

As well as Sydney, Tokyo, Hamburg, Shanghai and London, concerts will be staged in Johannesburg, New Jersey, Washington and on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach, where hundreds of thousands are expected to attend.

There was also be footage from Antarctica, where the previously unknown band Nunatak recorded a short set. The "gig" in front of 17 fellow researchers allows Gore to keep his promise to hold concerts on seven continents on the date 7/7/7.