A Dubai concert is promising to Rock the World but not the planet. Still, the show is being powered by a controversial fuel that some say isn’t so green.

Organizers of Rock the World/Save the Planet are marketing the Nov. 15 event as the first 100% environmentally sustainable rock concert. They say that despite filling the 6,000-seat Dubai Duty Free Stadium, and generating the usual rock and roll pyrotechnics, the concert will leave a net zero carbon footprint. 

Rock the World is the brainchild of Neutral Fuels, a Dubai-based company that turns waste cooking oils into biofuel that can run diesel engines. The eight-year-old company has six locations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Neutral Fuels’ B100 net zero biofuel will power the event, the company’s founder and CEO Karl W. Feilder said. “I want to show people [what] we can truly achieve today,” he told Karma  in a phone interview. 

But not everyone is sold on the idea. “Bioenergy is not as clean as solar energy,” Amruta Kshemkalyani, a UAE-based sustainability advisor, told Karma. “We need to understand what greenhouse gas emissions their biofuel is emitting.”

Climate consultant Syeda Hadika Jamshaid told Karma that event organizers would be better off not using plastic at all. “They should use other offsetting mechanisms, like investing in renewable energy projects,” she said.

The concert will feature three popular Philippine bands: Cueshe, whose moody ballad “Back to Me” has generated more than five million YouTube hits, and heavy metal groups Urbandub and Razorback. The lineup will also include Feilder’s Dubai cover band Sandstorm. 

  • Neutral Fuels will team with DGrade, another Dubai-based firm that recycles plastic bottles into clothing and accessories. DGrade will collect plastics from the event and convert them into sustainable yarns. 
  • The company will also team with One Tree Planted to plant trees to offset carbon emissions generated by the bands’ flights from the Philippines to Dubai and other concert activities. Neutral Fuels said it would measure the carbon levels stemming from the event. 
  • Black Rock City, the organization that runs the annual, week-long Burning Man extravaganza, said it generated 91 tons of emissions at its 2017 event.