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12/11/2013

The (environmental) cost of the World Cup in Brazil

Brazil

A workman installs grass in the Arena Sao Paulo stadium, the site of a crane crash in late November that killed two people. (Reuter photo.)

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is still six months away but already making news on many fronts. First, a crane crashed at a football stadium, killing two people. The site in Sao Paula was supposed to host the world cup opener.

That was still creating waves when it was revealed that the world cup will dump over 2.72 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into earth’s atmosphere. (This came from FIFA.) That is equivalent to CO2 produced by 560,000 cars in a year, or 136,000 American homes.

It’s also over a million tonnes more CO2 than was emitted by the previous world cup in South Africa in 2010.

To be fair, most of that CO2 will come from air travel as teams and fans jet set around the world’s fifth biggest country to get to the 12 different stadiums where the 64 World Cup matches will be played.

FIFA has promised to completely offset 100 per cent of the CO2 produced. That could include financing reforestation programmes in Brazil and new investments in wind energy and hydroelectric power. It is estimated that offsetting 2.72 million tonnes of carbon will cost about $2.5 million — nothing compared to the billions in revenue the games will generate.

The projects will be announced next year, FIFA has said.

Brazil's capital Rio de Janeiro is also hosting the 2016 summer Olympics. 

Meanwhile, The Associated Press is reported a few weeks ago that Russia’s state-owned rail monopoly dumped tonnes of construction waste into illegal landfills. The landfills are in an area classified as a water protection zone and the dumping may lead to contamination of the groundwater supply for all of Sochi.

Landfills remain in the spotlight because they are the single greatest source of anthropogenic methane, a powerful greenhouse gas with about 30 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Raveena Aulakh is the Toronto Star’s environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

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