Assembly warning on environmental aims of 2012 Games

In a report out today (October 29), the London Assembly's Environment Committee has warned that the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games could fail short of its environmental aims.

The environmental aspirations of the London 2012 Games are outlined in the London 2012 Sustainability Plan: Towards a One Planet 2012.

The Committee says the scale of the 2012 Games’ impact is ‘staggering’. The organisers expect the Games to create 8250 tonnes of waste, as much as an entire London borough over one month, and 1.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

While the Committee’s report, Going for Green, praises the innovative work to date, it feels London 2012 is not as ‘transformative’ as originally hoped and more must be done as the event approaches if it is to live up to the promise to make it ‘the first sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Games’.

It cites the failure to secure more electric vehicles for the Olympic fleet as a ‘missed opportunity’ and says it is still not clear how carbon emissions from travel to London will be reduced. It also claims that the target on renewable electricity during the staging phase of the Games is unlikely to be met.

Environment Committee chair, Darren Johnson, AM, said: “We fully support London 2012’s ambition to be the most sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Games in recent history, and there has been some excellent work towards that goal.

“However we don’t want to see environmental standards compromised in the run-up to what I am sure will be a fantastic Games.”

The report also signals concern about the capital’s air quality, forecasting harmful levels of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in crucial parts of London in 2012. The report calls for action to ensure NO2 levels are reduced to bring them closer to EU limits by the time of the Games.

Mr Johnson said: “London’s air quality is a particular cause for concern, as failing to reduce levels of pollutants could have consequences for London’s international reputation as well as the health of those attending the event.”

The report, however, welcomes London 2012’s approach to mapping its carbon footprint, calling it ‘groundbreaking’ and it commended the organisers’ aim to re-use or re-cycle 90% of temporary materials.

The report makes recommendations to keep the environmental targets for the Games on track. These include a plan to promote sustainable travel at the point of ticket sales to help cut carbon emissions from spectators’ journeys to the Games and targets for the re-use of temporary materials.

It calls on the Mayor to take action to ensure NO2 levels are reduced towards the EU limit and for the GLA to publish plans on how London 2012 sustainability standards will be applied at the live sites and in cultural events.

They say organisers need to make clear how they will quantify future carbon savings resulting from the Games, to compensate for unavoidable emissions needed to stage the event.

Alison Brown

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