World Cup nations team up against climate change

14:36, December 08, 2009      

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As climate talks began in Copenhagen on Monday, key football nations are teaming up for the planet for the biggest sport event of 2010.

More than half of the countries that have qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup have committed or pledged to offset the emissions of their teams' and officials' flights to South Africa for the competition.

Argentina, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Cote d'Ivoire, England, Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Serbia, the United States, Uruguay and host South Africa are among the squads determined to score green goals for the environment in 2010.

Tackling transport is central to greening the World Cup, as emissions generated by the teams' and spectators' international travel to South Africa will make up more than 67 per cent of the event's total greenhouse gas emissions.

The news was announced in Copenhagen on the first day of the UN Climate Change Conference, during a press conference with representatives of the 17 World Cup teams alongside Achim Steiner, UN undersecretary general and executive director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP).

"Today footballing nations representing millions if not billions of fans are standing up and being counted as environmental ambassadors for one of the greatest spectator events in the calendar. Every one of the teams is determined to make a sporting impact in South Africa while reducing their impact on the global environment. I hope the remaining nations participating in South Africa will want to come on-side for the climate in order to score their own green goals in 2010," Steiner said.

The news came as the UNEP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced further support towards greening the World Cup with a one million dollar funding package.

With GEF funding, the UNEP is supporting the Green Goal 2010 Program, which aims to ensure that the World Cup has a long-term sustainable impact on the country and the region.

The project will help six of the host cities reduce their energy consumption by installing solar-powered and energy-efficient street lamps, traffic lights and billboards in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Polokwane, Rustenburg and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality.

The GEF is also supporting a responsible tourism initiative through the Green Passport, which will be distributed widely to visitors during the World Cup to provide people with tips on how to travel sustainably.

The GEF funding will complement existing green initiatives by the South Africa 2010 organizers including investments in public transport, rainwater harvesting, recycling and tree planting drives at the host cities across South Africa.

In Cape Town, which has set a target of 50 percent of fans travelling to the 2010 stadiums by public transport, the World Cup has catalyzed significant investment by the city in public transport and non-motorized transport facilities. The city's brand-new integrated rapid transit system will be operational by June 2010, and new pedestrian and bicycle lanes are being built around the city.

Other initiatives by South African organizers include multi-bin systems for recycling in catering areas at World Cup venues, the cleanup of waste hot spots in Mangaung, education programs on soccer and the environment for 40 schools in Cape Town, and the planting of 200,000 trees around Johannesburg.

Source: Xinhua
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