While South Africa and the rest of the continent may be pursuing renewable forms of energy, the world's biggest sporting event will have anything but an environmental benefit with a report saying the carbon footprint of World Cup 2010 will be six times that of the last competition four years ago in Germany.
However, it's not just the influx of fans flying in from around the world to see the games, contributing to the footprint, in fact the majority of carbon was caused in the build up to the tournament.
According to a Norwegian government study, when FIFA chose South Africa as the host for the World Cup, the country was faced with the enormous task of having to build entirely new stadiums, whilst Germany used many existing venues, meaning massive amounts of carbon-intensive concrete. When it comes to construction, the cement industry is one of the main producers of carbon dioxide, with a ton of carbon being released for every ton of cement made.
On top of that, an increase in energy production (which is heavily coaled based in Africa) has seen more carbon emissions pumped into the atmosphere, especially when compared to Germany with its renewable energy installations.
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Compared to other European nations, South Africa also has poorer energy efficiency especially in buildings such as hotels. With a massive increase in accommodation use over the four week period, it is estimated that poor energy efficiency will be three and a half times worse per person for the South African World Cup than in Germany. This is further exacerbated by the average football fan staying for longer due to the average travelling distances being much greater.
According to the report, the total of internal carbon emission factors sums to 0.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. However, that influx of global fans will also have an effect....
With greater distances being travelled by most fans (a European-based World Cup is always likely to have the lowest footprint since Europe have the lion's share of competitors), the carbon footprint of international travel is prediction to be 1.9 million tonnes of CO2.
This leaves the World Cup with a carbon footprint twice as big as the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
However, it's not all bad news. In a bid to cut emissions from cars and public transportation systems, South Africa has constructed the Gautrain, a high-speed rail network that will transport fans around the country.
There are also projects to reduce fossil fuel consumption such as a US$10 million scheme to install solar panels and efficient lights on the streets, stoplights and billboards of the six host cities.
Further efforts to reduce the footprint has seen the government initiate substantial offset programs, including urban tree planting. South African officials have said that 200,000 trees have been planted in Johannesburg as part of the carbon offset program, 25,000 in Rustenberg, 86,000 in Ethekwini, and a target of 400,000 in Tshwane/Pretoria.
No matter the efforts or even having Yingli Green Energy as a sponsor, this World Cup looks to be the most environmentally unfriendly events in a long time. However, many have said that fault should not lie with South Africa, who are trying to make up for the environmental damage by purchasing carbon offsets all over the place but with FIFA.
After all the sporting body picked South Africa and it was within their remit to pick a nation with the capabilities of producing an eco-friendly tournament, something that this will not be.
Come 2014, it will be interesting to see how Brazil handles the tournament, considering the rain-forest deforestation concerns the country has.
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