Green Goal or Green Wash?

Brenda and I were invited to attend the FIFA World Cup Green Goal exhibition centre in the fan park at the Grande Parade in Cape Town last week. I went along feeling quite skeptical, as one tends to be when large multinationals start boasting about their eco-credentials.  

What I wanted to know was: was FIFA really implementing valuable sustainability programmes that would result in a reduction in carbon emissions and, would they continue after the World Cup had ended, or was this no more than a great big PR exercise?

I was particularly concerned after reading an article in the Engineering News which explained how three initiatives under the ‘Reducing the carbon footprint of major sporting events, FIFA 2010 and the Green Goal’ Project had been launched. The three initiatives were Greener Lighting to World Cup Host Cities, Green Passport and offsetting teams’ emissions. 

I became quite excited when I read that these initiatives received $10million between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Unep and the Department for Environmental Affairs.

Although the three initiatives sounded great, on closer inspection I discovered that it only included twelve billboards being switched to solar power; 60 solar traffic lights and 78 streetlights upgraded to use solar power. It also included offsetting team player’s flights and the handing out of a “green passport” eco information leaflet to football fans. Pretty meagre when you look at the budget they received!

What is also interesting to note was that this year the FIFA family itself and the Local Organising Committee has not made any contributions or committed to offset their emissions. They did however do so at the previous World Cup.

The 2010 World Cup is expected to generate 2,7 million tons of GHG – around eight times the footprint of the 2006 Germany World Cup.  Only 11 of the 32 participating teams have agreed to offset their emissions this year.

The carbon footprint of hosting the World Cup in Cape Town is around 180 000 tonnes of CO2. The determination of the carbon footprint of the event is an essential starting point and it seems that the City of Cape Town, with the Green Goal programme, has implemented some great programmes to reduce this footprint.

 A total of 41 projects have been identified across nine target areas:

  • Energy and climate change
  • Water
  • Integrated Waste Management
  • Transport, mobility and access
  • Landscaping and biodiversity
  • Green building and sustainable lifestyles
  • Responsible tourism
  • Green Goal communications
  • Monitoring, measurement and reporting

One excellent initiative which must be mentioned is the Cape Town Green Map. This interactive map, available on-line and in print, gives a comprehensive list of all things green in the city; green spaces, nature reserves, organic eateries, farmers’ markets, recycling drop-offs, sustainable living projects, eco products and other green choices useful to tourists and locals alike. Visit their website for more information: http://www.capetowngreenmap.co.za/ There are however concerns that once the World Cup is over there will no longer be funding for this excellent project.

Cape Town has also instituted a host of public transport options in and around the city – intercity busses, the first ever public transport from CT International airport, trains and park & ride facilities. However, whilst this is a great initiative it is discouraging that the majority of the transport in the city is only there for the World Cup and will not automatically continue. (The airport shuttle will continue but the inner city distribution services won’t.)

Recycling bins can be seen across the city centre allowing people to separate their wet and dry waste. The dry waste is sent to Athlone where it is sorted for reuse and recycling. Cape Town set a target for 20% of all waste from the World Cup to be recycled or reused. Project 90 has confirmed that this excellent recycling initiative will continue after the World Cup – and let’s hope that 20% will increase.

Another Cape Town initiative is promoting the drinking of tap water (Cape Town’s drinking water meets the highest international standards) and taps have been installed along the fan walk and at the fan fest. Although these will not remain in place after the World Cup they will be used when other events are planned in the city.  Videos promoting Cape Town’s safe tap water have been shown on the big screens at the Fan Fest throughout the tournament. 

Greenpoint stadium was fitted with water saving technologies and collects rain water on the roof . Spring water from table Mountain is being used to irrigate the green spaces around the stadium, which previously ran straight out to sea. This rain water and spring water will also be used to irrigate the nearby golf course instead of potable water.

GreenStaySA is a Green Goal legacy project that works with accommodation sites to become more environmentally friendly. Read more here:  http://www.greenstaysa.org.za/ag3nt/system/index.php

So, in conclusion I was most impressed with the City of Cape Town’s Green Goal programme, but a careful watch must be kept to ensure that these programmes continue now that the World Cup has ended. On the other hand, I am less than impressed with the Greener Lighting to World Cup Host Cities programme. The fact the FIFA is not making any contributions or committing to offset their emissions this year is a deplorable state of affairs.

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One response to “Green Goal or Green Wash?

  1. The World Cup in South Africa generated more CO2 – more than 8 times the amount generated from the World Cup in Germany. What will this mean for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil?

    FIFA should look into setting some concrete targets for reducing the footprint of their events. Carbon offsets is one possibility. And 3D glasses sponsorship?

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