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How do we reduce the carbon footprint of major sporting events?


How do we reduce the carbon footprint of major sporting events?

As London prepares to host the Olympic Games, the legacy debate extends beyond the sports field to the impact these games will have on the environment. The New Scientist claims that "Large sporting events have an 'ecological footprint' thousands of times the size of the pitches they are played on," so are organisers doing enough to minimise the impact?

The two biggest factors contributing to the carbon footprint of the 2004 FA Cup final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, were the transport for nearly 73,000 fans and the 36,500 food products consumed. In countries like the UK, countless campaign groups are working to promote 'greener' lifestyles, but how can developing countries such as Brazil, who will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympics, efficiently ensure green practices.

Addressing the environmental impact of sporting events
In 2010, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), held a forum in Nairobi, in Kenya, to discuss the impact of large sporting events, in light of South Africa hosting the first World Cup on African soil earlier that year. FIFA were among the delegates represented and discussed the sustainability measures for future sports events, including the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Responsibility of organisers, federations and players
The presence of FIFA, highlighted that sports governing bodies and federations need to be doing more to promote and combat this issue. Examples of this are illustrated by Sport England's extensive research into the impact of major sporting events and the role of environmental accounting and UEFA's continued support towards the campaigns of environmental awareness charity, WWF.

Grassroots sports organisations to promote environmental Awareness
In 2011, at the COP 17 meeting in Durban, South Africa, GIZ (The International Development arm of the German Government), released the Manual for Environmental Awareness, through the Youth Development through Football (YDF) programme. The manual was an opportunity to make players responsible for their actions and integrating these issues into the community.

Organisation Committees committed to change
Measures for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, are currently being implemented, due to the nature of Sochi's current natural landscape, home to the Black Sea, the Caucasus mountains and Alpine meadows. The mountain village for the Games was moved after an expert assessment by the UNEP to a 'less environmentally-sensitive site.'

Sponsors can also be held partly responsible. Dow Chemicals, one of London 2012's more controversial sponsors has ensured "environmentally friendly plastic," for the styrofoam insulation for the aquatics centre in what has been named "the greenest games ever."

Using international events can promote and address environmental issues
The UNEP made it clear that Sport and the Environment should work together to achieve two main objectives, "to use the popularity of sports to promote environmental awareness and to encourage green activities through sport that bring real benefits to communities and to the environment.” However there should also be a recognition that players themselves also need to be involved and educated about these campaigns, and not just as ambassadors.


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Mel Paramasivan


Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 23:00