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World Cup Responsible for 2.7M Tons of CO2 Equivalent

The total carbon footprint for the recently concluded 2010 World Cup came to 2,753,250 tons of CO2 equivalent, according to a recent study by Ernst & Young, an eight-fold increase over the last World Cup in Germany.

The majority of emissions were the result of international travel: teams, fans, administrators, and support staff all contributed to the 1,856,589 tons emitted as the result of international travel to South Africa, by far the largest component of the World Cup’s carbon footprint, representing 67.4 percent.

The second largest component, intercity travel, generated 484,961 tons and represented 17.6 percent of the total. The third largest component, energy used for accommodations, emitted only 340,128 tons, or 12.4 percent.

Although South Africa struggled to build environmentally friendly stadiums, they only accounted for 0.5 percent of the tournament’s footprint.

The Ernst & Young study was part of an effort to plan for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with an eye toward reducing its carbon emissions. Since the German World Cup in 2006, Fifa has been developing “The Green Goal”, an official program aimed, among other aspects, at reducing CO2 emissions. It focuses on four aspects: water, waste, energy and transport.

Given Brazil’s location and its size, the Ernst & Young study suggested that carbon emissions from international travel will likely not change very much in 2014. But the report named several steps FIFA could take in Brazil to reduce the next Cup’s footprint.

Among some of the transportation solutions mentioned in the study are the use of energy-efficient eco-taxis to ferry spectators to the games, the creation of bike and pedestrian paths to discourage the use of automobiles, and increasing the efficiency of existing public transportation options. Using vehicles that run on biodiesel or ethanol were also recommended.

The study also recommended steps to increase the energy efficiency of facilities built for the Cup, including having new construction certified under internationally recognized design auditing programs, such as LEED, Acqua and Breeam certification, which would help reduce the CO2 emissions in both the construction process and in the use of the buildings.

Establishing carbon offset programs associated with the tournament could be another way to reduce the net effect of its carbon emissions, the report said.

London is currently struggling with similar issues as it tries to reduce the carbon footprint of the 2012 Olympics.

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3 thoughts on “World Cup Responsible for 2.7M Tons of CO2 Equivalent

  1. Interesting analysis, but it would be much more meaningful if the CO2 emissions for the world cup were compared to a scenario in which all of those people stayed home. For sure, in that alternate scenario, each person would have projected a carbon footprint caused by daily life, alternate vacation travel, etc. I suspect that, as a minimum, the 484,961 tons of CO2 attributed to “intercity travel” would have been created by the fans even had they stayed home.

  2. That’s a lot of CO2 emission, but I guess you have to consider that the event was also enjoyed on television by something like 27 billion people. I suppose a certain amount of travel could be eliminated by having the games played in cities that are close to each other. Maybe FIFA needs to take that kind of thing into consideration when awarding the WC to a host nation.

  3. Very interesting, but Ernst & Young did not do any of the analysis of the carbon footprint. This work was done by Econ Poyry in 2009, and published by the Norwegian Embassy. Not sure how this was attributed to Ernst & Young but will assume it is just an oversight. The full report is available at http://www.norway.org.za/NR/rdonlyres/3E6BB1B1FD2743E58F5B0BEFBAE7D958/114457/FeasibilityStudyforaCarbonNeutral2010FIFAWorldCup.pdf
    Best wishes, Randall Spalding-Fecher

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