Last Sunday was a great moment for the German football nation. They walked out of the Marcanã Stadium as the new Champion of the world. And I might be biased as I am German, but this was an impressive sporting moment.
And yet, one question remains to be answered; an event like this – that is able to excite, astonish and amaze billions of people all over the globe – is how sustainable and green? It was announced to be the greenest FIFA world cup ever.
The World Cup in Germany 2006 was already setting some examples how to be carbon neutral: tickets for matches could be used for public transportation; some stadiums had solar power, rainwater collection cisterns and free bicycle parking. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics environmental technologies were advanced and national environment reforms sped up. And the 2012 London Olympics were generally praised for strengthening sustainability benchmarks with strategies that could be used as an example for future mega-events like the World Cup.
Some main facts:
– FIFA announced its strategy for Brazil at RIO+20 including LEED green buildings certification for stadiums, Brazil-based carbon offsets, recycling and water conservation measures.
– FIFA celebrated solar panels, water conversation and waste reduction features in São Paulo and at Rio’s Maracanã.
– Yingli Solar was the first solar sponsor of the World Cup and it is also the largest solar company of the world. It already started their sponsorship during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Some things they haven’t achieved:
– The deadline for completing the first line of a monorail between São Paulo suburbs and the airport, to convey visitors smoothly while reducing pollution and traffic congestion, was pushed back due to construction delays. Further lines are still being planned, but there is no further information given when this will happen.
– The stadium in Manaus features the latest energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. Plans for powering the stadium through solar energy were abandon completely.
Comparing this to of what happened 2010 in South Africa shows that back then a total of 2,753,250 tonnes of CO2 equivalent were emitted. And looking at the table below from Ernst & Young’s comprehensive analysis one thing becomes clear: almost 70% of the 2010 World Cup emissions were from international transportation.
According to the Guardian total emissions “is roughly equivalent to 6,000 space shuttle fights, three quiet years for Mount Etna, or 20 cheeseburgers for every man, woman and child in the UK.”
There are no accurate numbers available for the current Cup, but despite their Sustainability Strategy, Brazil witnessed increased GHG emissions, environmental degradation, habitat loss and water pollution as major impacts of the World Cup to one of the richest biodiversity globally. And everyone remembers the pictures of demonstrations against the Cup beforehand.
However! For whatever reason, the least important part of our modern society is in fact able to attract the biggest attention. People listen to the sport industry, their events and their marketing like to hardly anything else. Sport can influence the public opinion and even governments (see Brazilian Budweiser Bill). So it is important that such events proclaim their thirst to become greener and sustainable – even if it is a long way to take.
Although there is no direct correlation, at the same time when the World Cup was occupying the stage of attention all over the world, the biggest rooftop solar farm in Latin America was unveiled in Brazil. Yes, they have nothing in common other than the sustainable movement and clean energy is taking over.
Ideal, a solar-certification company, commented on this milestone that their “idea is to show the potential and the technical and economic viability of solar energy in urban areas throughout Latin America, and the design of the model … will convince government and investors in this technology”.