Carbon emissions from next year’s soccer World Cup are expected to soar from the 2006 benchmark set by Germany, but host South Africa said yesterday it would invest in carbon credits to mitigate the impact.
Emissions accelerate global warming and major sports events, including the Olympics and World Cup, have since the early 1990s been designed to minimise the impact on the environment.
“The FIFA 2010 World Cup will have the largest carbon footprint of any major event with a goal to be climate neutral,” South Africa’s Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica told Reuters in response to emailed questions.
She said the estimated carbon footprint of Africa’s first soccer World Cup is 896,661 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), with an additional 1,856,589 tCO2e contributed by international travel.
Air travel to visit the long-haul destination is expected to make up 67 % of the country’s total carbon emissions during the one-month event next year, with up to 500 000 foreign tourists expected.
“This footprint is almost 10 times the footprint of the 2006 FIFA World Cup hosted in Germany,” Sonjica said, adding Germany did not include air travel in its estimates four years ago.
Germany’s bid to host the world’s most watched television spectacle included, for the first time in FIFA’s history, an environmental management aspect later branded “Green Goal”.
It includes targets in areas such as water, refuse, energy and mobility, with the ambition of a climate-neutral event.
Germany set targets to reduce waste volumes in and around stadiums, urged visitors to use more public transport services and designed its stadiums to make use of energy-saving lights, pumps and ventilators.
Similar environmentally-friendly plans are in place at the 10 hosting stadiums in South Africa, already the world’s 12th largest polluter due to its heavy reliance on coal-fired power.
Stadiums in Johannesburg will feature water-free urinals and low-volume flush toilets, while Cape Town has explored augmenting its energy from a windfarm.
But it is the high carbon emissions associated with air travel South Africa was keen to tackle, Sonjica said.
“The department has opted to place much effort in offsetting this 67 % through the establishment of a web-based system for offsetting emissions,” she said, without giving details.
Sonjica said no specific projects have been identified so far, and new projects were likely to be implemented after 2010.
One of Germany’s World Cup offset projects was found in South Africa, and involved replacing an old coal-fired boiler with a new multi-fuel boiler using sawdust as fuel, saving some 19 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions yearly.
Sonjica said South Africa, with the help of the United Nations Development Programme, was looking at potential carbon offset projects for the southern Africa region but this was still at its infancy stage.
“We have not yet ventured into the calculation, verification and/or trade of carbon credits,” Sonjica said.