France promises green World Cup
PARIS (Reuters) - Solar panels on stadium roofs, recycled pitch-watering systems and fair trade snacks for half time should make the World Cup a model for environmentally friendly sporting events, French officials said on Tuesday.
The competition, which kicks off next week, is expected to generate some 570,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the annual output of the tournament's Pacific Ocean outsiders Western Samoa.
Organizers, however, believe it will also be an occasion to establish environmental benchmarks for future sporting and cultural events such as big rock festivals.
"We want all sports and cultural events in France to be ecologically responsible," Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo told reporters at the Stade de France where hosts France meet Argentina in the opening match on September 7.
A major publicity campaign encouraging greater environmental awareness has already begun in France, linked to the World Cup.
Organizers have commissioned a carbon audit of the event from environmental energy agency ADEME, which helped to coordinate a series of energy-saving measures ranging from rail transport between matches to biofuels and solar energy in stadiums.
The green focus is in keeping with events including the Olympic Games and the soccer World Cup as sport has been faced with the environmental impact of moving thousands of fans from all over the world between a series of floodlit stadiums.
"These events are celebrations but they also have to be celebrations of the planet," Borloo said.
The matches are expected to generate around 778 tons of stadium trash and soak up some 4.7 million kWh of electricity, the equivalent of leaving 73,000 60-watt light bulbs burning throughout the whole six-week tournament.
Part of that will be balanced by installations such as the 2,600 square meters of solar panels on the roof of the stadium in Saint Etienne or a smaller solar power facility near the Australian team's training ground in Montpellier.
Garbage will be recycled and at least some of the snacks on sale at matches will be from "fair trade" sources.
However by far the biggest impact will come from transport, which is expected to account for 84 percent of the extra carbon emissions generated during the tournament and which organizers will be largely powerless to limit.
Around 30,000 visitors from Australia and New Zealand will generate some 240,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions as they fly to France for the event.