The organizing committee for the 2012 London Olympics has gone back on a pledge to offset carbon emissions during the event.
The emissions cutting promise was a major part of the bid that helped London win the right to host the Olympics ahead of eight other cities. As part of the scheme, organizers would have invested in renewable energy initiatives in developing countries around the world to offset the carbon emissions produced during the preparations and the holding of the Games.
But David Stubbs, head of sustainability at the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympics Games (LOCOG), told Bloomberg that the committee was “no longer pursuing formal offsetting procedures,” opting instead to focus its efforts on local initiatives.
“Officially, if you want to go down certified carbon-offsetting all projects have to be overseas, so if we plant a lot of trees in Essex that just doesn’t count,” said Stubbs. “Because the Games are in the UK, we wanted to maximize the Games locally. Doing formal offsetting would be diverting things.”
Emissions Not A Priority
LOCOG stands to save up to $4.4 million by scrapping the scheme, according to financial services group MF Global, which highlights a tendency in the UK to drop clean-energy initiatives to save money at a time when the government is increasing taxes and cutting public spending.
The savings will be stretched thin, however, with LOCOG also announcing a £150 million, or $244 million, increase in its security budget for the Games. This brings the total to around £600 million ($978 million).
Taking into account all construction and transport costs involved, the preparation and hosting of the Games will produce an estimated 3.4 million tons of carbon emissions, with the two weeks of sporting events themselves generating around 438,000 tons.
The committee said that a total offset plan for the entirety of the Games had never been on the cards, but it promised to minimize emissions at ground level. “We never said we would have a total offsetting program. It is a wider approach to compensate for residual emissions,” said Stubbs.
Committee spokesman Adrian Bassett told Bloomberg that a better understanding of the Games’ carbon footprint had led LOCOG to believe that “efforts and resources should be focused on managing direct impact within our control, avoiding and reducing emissions.”
Key Statistics – Olympic Game Audience (source: BCC News poll)
- Around 30% of television viewers say they will be "following closely", while 36% say they are not interested in watching the Games.
- Some 23% of sports fans were interested in British athlete preparation and 23% in athletes qualifying, while 21% wanted news about the construction of the Olympic sites and 21% were interested in how much everything would cost.
- General interest in milestones was low at just 8%.
- Just 9% of those surveyed were “very excited” about the 2012 London Olympics, with 20% not particularly excited and 23% were not excited at all.
- Some 65% of respondents think the Olympics will have a positive impact on the United Kingdom, while 9% think it will be negative.