London Olympics Drops Carbon Offset Pledge

by | Sep 2, 2011

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Organizers of the London 2012 Olympic Games have dropped plans to offset the event’s carbon emissions, blaming requirements that such offset projects would have been located abroad.

The London Olympics’ pledge to offset its emissions was part of the bid that helped it beat off competition from eight other potential host cities.

But David Stubbs, the head of sustainability at the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), has said in an interview that offset projects would have taken place away from Britain.

“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 [English county] Essex that just doesn’t count,” Stubbs told Bloomberg. “Because the Games are in the U.K., we wanted to maximize the Games locally. Doing formal offsetting would be diverting things,” he added.

The committee is now aiming to reduce some emissions at source, and instead of buying formal carbon credits, LOCOG has appointed BP Plc’s Target Neutral unit to offset the 34,000 tons of CO2 that travellers to the games are expected to generate. Target Neutral will also offset the emissions from 5,000 official Games vehicles, and will advise visitors on how to reduce their carbon footprint, Bloomberg reported.

“We never said we would have a total offsetting program. It’s a wider approach to compensate for residual emissions,” Stubbs said, according to Bloomberg.

LOCOG had estimated earlier that the construction of the Olympic site – Europe’s largest urban renewal project – the staging of the games and the transportation of staff, athletes and visitors would generate 3.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, according to Bloomberg.

By eliminating the Games-wide offsetting, LOCOG may avoid costs of up to 2.7 million pounds ($4.4 million), Bloomberg estimated, using prices  quoted by brokers MF Global.

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