Brazil and FIFA have promised that this year’s World Cup tournament will be the “greenest” ever. But is that true?
With 3 billion viewers around the world and more than 500,000 fans attending the game, plus staff and players, it may be a stretch to say that this year’s World Cup will be the greenest in history.
The World Cup is such a widely watched event that calculating the carbon dioxide emissions associated with it can be difficult. Every time someone turns on the TV to watch the game, electricity is used to watch the game — most likely using coal or natural gas.
But on top of just the viewers, there are all the flights and transportation needed to get the 500,000 fans to Brazil to see the game, not to mention the thousands of support staff, security and the soccer teams themselves.
FIFA estimates that the total carbon dioxide emissions surrounding the game to be about 24,670 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. Most of these emissions come from international flights and air freight. Oilprice.com notes the carbon emissions associated with the game are equal to burning 2.8 million gallons of gasoline or 13,250 tons of coal.
FIFA found that 61 percent of carbon dioxide emissions come from international travel for staff members. The other 39 percent comes from “all the trucks needed to transport cables, cameras and furniture, and the energy required to operate all of the electronics,” reports Oilprice.com.
Responding to Climate Change reports the direct emissions from the game are expected to be 60,000 metric tons of carbon, much higher than FIFA estimates.
But the total emissions of the games and all surrounding activities could be as high as 2.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.
For years now, FIFA has been concerned with the climate footprint of its massive soccer tournament. For this year’s game, organizers have reportedly dedicated $1.5 billion to just the climate impacts of the games.
Brazil has made an effort to completely offset the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the games by offering carbon credits. Brazil said that 520,000 metric tons of carbon had been offset by June 10th, but millions of more tons will need to be offset in order to make the game “carbon-neutral” — despite the fact that offsetting carbon emissions has no actual climate benefit.
The liberal blog Grist also notes that this year’s World Cup will emit nearly double the amount of carbon dioxide as 2010’s World Cup in South Africa.
Despite Brazil’s optimism that it can completely offset the World Cup’s emissions, economists have expressed doubts the games will be as “green” as the organizers claim.
“The stadiums are equipped with the minimum capacity of capture and water reuse. We’re in the absurd situation of growing the grass pitch with artificial lightning despite being in a tropical country,” Luiz Prado, World Bank economist and member Brazilian Network of Environmental Information, told RTCC. “This artificial light costs at least US$ 45,000 every month. We don’t have any sustainable stadiums at all.”
“You don’t reach the airport by subway, if you arrive from an international flight with your luggage and take a bus that will go through 27 neighbourhoods (47 stations) to the final stop which is a bus terminal, you still won’t be able to reach where you need to, the hotels in the coastal area of the city,” Prado said.
“The authorities did not calculate the real costs. No alternative has never being presented to the society,” Prado added.