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London Olympics Slash CO2 Footprint by 21%

The organizers of the 2012 London Olympic Games have cut the event’s projected carbon footprint by over a fifth, through the use of rented seats, tents and crowd barriers, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek report.

The event’s carbon footprint is now projected to be the equivalent of 315,000 metric tons of CO2, down 21 percent from the 400,000 metric tons estimated in March, according to a report released by the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games, seen by Businessweek.

Most of the savings come from renting rather than buying seats, crowd barriers and tents, but LOCOG also cut 15,000 metric tons of CO2 by reducing the floor space of venues by 969,000 square feet, according to Businessweek.

The Olympic Park will generate 11 percent of its power from renewable sources, the committee said. The Games’ original 20 percent target proved too large after organizers cancelled a planned 2 MW wind turbine at the site, Businessweek reports.

The report only covers carbon emitted by staging the games, not those from construction. Bloomberg reports that an estimated 3.45 million metric tons of CO2 were emitted over the seven years of site-clearance and building.

In September last year, LOCOG dropped plans to offset the event’s carbon emissions, blaming requirements that such offset projects would have been located abroad. The committee is now aiming to reduce some emissions at source, and instead of buying formal carbon credits, LOCOG has appointed BP Plc’s Target Neutral unit to offset the 34,000 tons of CO2 that travelers to the games are expected to generate. The body, which is oil giant BP’s not-for-profit carbon management arm, is hoping to sign up enough spectators to set a new world record for the largest offset as measured by number of participants.

Sustainability was at the heart of London’s successful bid to host the games, leading sponsors and suppliers to offer a number of sustainability programs.

In March, McDonald’s announced that during the Olympics it will serve chicken exclusively from U.K. farmers, following pressure from farming and environmental groups. Coca-Cola promised in November to recycle the estimated 80 million clear plastic PET bottles used at the Games.

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