FIFA: 2014 World Cup will have an enormous carbon footprint

The tournament is expected to dump 2.72 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere

Topics: carbon dioxide emissions, World Cup, FIFA, Rio de Janeiro, ,

There’s only one way to hold an international soccer tournament, and it involves a lot of flying. But the 2014 World Cup is going to be a particularly carbon-heavy event. According to estimates released by FIFA, the tournament will produce the equivalent of 2.72 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — almost double that of the 2010 World Cup, and the same amount emitted by 560,000 passenger cars in a year.

“If you compare this to the emissions of other industries, it is nothing,” Federico Addiechi, FIFA’s head of corporate responsibility, told the Associated Press. (Ford, for example, estimates that its plants emitted about 5.1 million tons in 2012.) About 251,000 tons will come directly from FIFA’s activities, and Addiechi said they’re planning to offset them all by financing project like reforestation or wind farms in Brazil, at an estimated cost of $2.5 million.

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But the vast majority of emissions — 90 percent — will come from fans. As a small gesture, FIFA is offering to partially offset ticketholders’ flights. It’s a “ground-breaking” plan, Addiechi said, that will cost “20 bucks per fan, probably.”

It’s not easy being the guy in charge of promoting environmental responsibility at such a major event. Most of the Brazil stadiums are going to be LEED-certified and have solar panels, but Addiechi said it’s his job to encourage further improvements, asking questions like: “‘Do we really need this? Do we really need such a big tent? Do we really need to go there?’”

“Those are my arguments,” he told the AP. “But there are other arguments and we need to accept that they are sometimes as important as the environmental and social ones.”

Lindsay Abrams
Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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