As the country prepares to welcome visitors for the imminent soccer spectacular, United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) outreach unit director Satinder Bindra said that he was in South Africa "to score an environmental goal or two", as stakeholders launched three initiatives under the ‘Reducing the carbon footprint of major sporting events, FIFA 2010 and the Green Goal' project.
The three initiatives launched on Tuesday were: Greener lighting for World Cup host cities; green passport; and offsetting teams emissions.
The initiative was a result of a partnership between the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which contributed $1-million to initiatives, Unep, and the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), which contributed some $9-million to support various initiatives.
The FIFA family itself and the Local Organising Committee have not made contributions or committed to offsetting emissions attributable to their activities as they did for the 2006 World Cup, which was held in Germany, and which was where the ‘Green Goal' programme was initiated.
Green Goal has now become a FIFA criteria for host nations to fulfil, and it was noted that Brazil had already approached South Africa to learn from the country's Green Goal experience.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup event was expected to generate some 2,7-million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, largely attributable to significant international air travel, as well as domestic travel. This was about eight times the size of the carbon footprint of the Germany World Cup.
DEA acting COO Andre Share told Engineering News Online that it was not yet clear how many tons of emissions could be mitigated or offset through the initiatives, but said that it would be clearer once the carbon calculator was initiated.
He emphasised that the stakeholders wanted to see results, which was why the opportunity for visitors to offset their emissions would run until December, giving them a chance to offset their emissions after the tournament, but a definite deadline ensured that results could then be reported on.
Share said that an independent assessment of the programme would be commissioned, through the measuring of carbon emissions reduction results from the project.
This initiative was supported by the $1-million GEF funding, and aimed at greening public street lights, traffic lights and billboards in and around the stadiums of six host cities, namely: the City of Tshwane (Pretoria); the Johannesburg Metropolitan municipality; the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan municipality (Port Elizabeth); the Polokwane local municipality; the Rustenburg local municipality; and the Manguang local municipality (Bloemfontein).
Twelve billboards, two in each city, were switched to solar power; 60 solar traffic lights were rolled out; and 78 streetlights were upgraded to use solar power and compact fluorescent lamps, across the six host cities.
Johannesburg-based company Envirolight was responsible for the retrofitting of the 78 streetlights. Envirolight director Brian Monteith explained to Engineering News Online that this contribution alone, could reduce 36 t of carbon dioxide, which would usually be generated through coal-fired electricity to power the streetlights.
He added that the potential for savings, not only environmentally and economically, but in reducing the stress on the Eskom grid, were significant if efficient solar streetlights were rolled out on a large scale.
OFFSETTING TEAM EMISSIONS
Eleven of the teams participating in the World Cup would offset the emissions caused by their participation in the event.
The Puma sportswear company would fund carbon offsetting for its sponsored teams, namely: Algeria, Cameroon, the Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Uruguay, Italy and Switzerland.
In addition to the Puma sponsored teams, Argentina, England, Republic of Korea and Serbia have also committed to offsetting their emissions.
Unep hoped that more countries will follow suit by the start of the tournament.
The teams' carbon footprint included international flights to and from South Africa, domestic flights and coaches to and from group matches for teams and officials, and accommodation in hotels - a total of about 6 050 t of greenhouse gas emissions.
The green passport initiative was aimed at raising awareness, and encouraging visitors to make responsible travel choices while in the country.
The 32-page booklet would be distributed to 100 000 soccer spectators, and would be handed out by volunteers at airports and hotels for example.
The booklet encouraged tourism that respects the environment and positively affects the economic and social development of the local community, and would also provide travellers with information on host city green goal plans and achievements; green accommodation, restaurants and activities, specific guidelines for sustainable tourism, and a carbon footprint calculator and tips on how to reduce ones personal footprint.
Offset projects would also be attached to the carbon calculator, enabling travellers to calculate and offset their emissions against the project of their choice.
The DEA in South Africa, together with the Departments of Energy, and Tourism, the Central Energy Fund, Eskom and the Local Organising Committee, have identified five carbon offset projects to assist in offsetting travellers' emissions.
These were: Solar cookers, by Sunfire Solutions; soil composting, by Soil and More Reliance, light-emitting diode energy efficient lighting retrofit programme, by Lemnis Lighting, wind energy, by Mainstream Renewable Power; and domestic fire lighting through the Basa nge magogo project, by the Nova Institute.
The identified offset projects would be attached to the carbon calculator, and travellers could calculate and offset their emissions against their chosen project.
Eskom was a partner in the greening initiative and confirmed that it would donate the green portion of its existing green energy generated from June 11 to July 11, in an effort to reduce the 2010 carbon footprint.
Further, Eskom also confirmed that the green energy produced by member utilities in the Southern African Power Pool, Cahora Bassa, Lesotho Electricity Corporatioin and Société National d'Electrcité, over that period would be metered for and dedicated to South Africa.
In addition, an SMS campaign has been initiated in partnership with Foneworx and KPMG, to generate funds towards offsetting the 2010 carbon footprint.
One could SMS "GOGREEN" to 34066, at a cost of R2, which would then be put towards carbon offset projects.
The SMS campaign, together with the carbon calculator and the chosen offset projects would be available until December 2010, to allow participants, travellers to South Africa and international and domestic spectators to offset their carbon emissions.