UNbacked World Cup initiative scores goal for environment

“The German Local Organizing Committee has put down a clear and unequivocal environmental foundation from which future host countries can now build,” UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said of the so-called ‘Green Goal’ project set up by the Committee with UNEP cooperation. The report, launched at the Global Forum for Sport and the Environment in Lausanne, Switzerland, came just a day after the release of another study showing that UNEP-backed initiatives won a gold medal for the 2006 Winter Olympics with the Games in Torino, Italy, setting new records for offsetting global warming gas emissions. “Organizers of future FIFA World Cup events will now have to consider playing the environment up front as one of the leading strikers in their planning and policy strategies,” Mr. Steiner said, referring to the International Football Federation. “Otherwise, they risk own goals and off-sides from domestic and international public opinion.”The legacy report on ‘Green Goal’ highlights how, through a range of domestic measures including deploying renewable energy at venues and boosting the use of public and non-motorized transport by fans, significant greenhouse gas reductions were achieved.Apart from domestic measures, the organizers offset rises in emissions by supporting clean energy schemes in India and South Africa, host country for the 2010 Cup. These offsets saved an estimated 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide entering the global atmosphere, over-compensating the additional emissions in Germany by 8,000 tonnes.The report shows that the amount of greenhouse gases saved by these combined actions more than compensated for the emissions generated, so much so that the flights to and from Germany by soccer stars like Brazil’s Ronaldino and England’s Rooney and FIFA officials were also offset.“UNEP has been proud to have been associated with the ‘Green Goal’ and not just for its achievement on climate but for its achievements in areas from waste avoidance to the harvesting of rainwater for pitches,” Mr. Steiner said. “We stand ready to assist the organizers of the 2010 tournament in South Africa score their own ‘Green Goals’ and in doing so send a clear signal to organizers of all mass audience events that environment deserves top billing, is no longer a support act but a big draw in its own right.”

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