According to a startling infographic made for EU Infrastructure and a report by the Norwegian Embassy, the carbon footprint of this year’s World Cup in South Africa will be a whopping 6 times that of the last competition that took place in Germany 4 years ago. Many factors come into play – construction, travel, energy efficiency and existing infrastructure. Read on to see how each one adds to the 2,753,251 tons of CO2 (the equivalent of yearly emissions of over a million cars) that the event is projected to generate, what steps are being taken to possibly offset some of the ungreenness and how some of what is contributing to the massive footprint could actually be a good thing for South Africa.
Construction makes up a decent portion of the footprint contributing 15,359 tons of CO2 to the total. To be fair, it’s important to point out that unlike past host locations, South Africa didn’t have many existing stadiums and needed to build new ones. As you may know, cement production releases carbon at a ratio of one ton of carbon for each ton of cement, and the amount of the material needed to construct the 10 main venues for games was substantial.
Another major factor will be international travel. Since many, if not the majority, of fans will be making the trek from Europe, the fact that the games will be located in South Africa ups the amount of carbon from travel quite a bit from past competitions held in European countries to 1,856,589 tons. In addition to how the fans are getting to the games, their energy consumption while they stay at hotels and other accommodations is projected to release 340,128 tons of carbon into the atmosphere largely due to the poor energy efficiency of South Africa’s buildings.
So what’s the good news? Well, much of what has been built has incorporated sustainable features like solar panels and efficient lighting, and will hopefully be used for other events for years to come. In terms of travel within South Africa, the Gautrain, a high-speed rail network, has been constructed to transport fans around the country, and will also remain as an alternative to cars for residents.
And a plan to reduce the games’ carbon footprint is currently in progress. According to ENS Newswire, the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, and the South African Department of Environmental Affairs have partnered to secure $1 million in funding from the Global Environmental Facility Fund to install solar panels and efficient lights on the streets and promote low carbon participation by handing out informational packets to fans.