Euro 2016 ‘carbon bootprint’ league table: Which nation has the greenest fans?

With England kicking off their UEFA Euro 2016 campaign with that gut-wrenching last-minute draw on Saturday (11 June), the Carbon Trust has investigated how the carbon footprint of Three Lions supporters matches up against rival nations competing in the tournament - but the results don't offer up much consolation.

The Trust has calculated the ‘carbon bootprint’ of each Euro 2016 nation and created a low-carbon electricity league table of individual fans watching a football game at home in each of the 24 participating countries. (Scroll down for league table).

The analysis shows that viewing on an LED smart TV through digital terrestrial television is the lowest carbon option, while watching through a cable connection can increase emissions over 10 times.

The resulting table does not look particularly inspiring for England, who occupy a mediocre 17th spot just behind rivals Germany but one place ahead of neighbours Wales – a position which England fans will hope can be replicated in the tournament group stages.

Iceland don’t play until tomorrow evening (14 June), but the Nordic country top the pile of the low-carbon electricity rankings, thanks to providing almost all of their electricity using hydropower and geothermal energy. Meanwhile, Albania can take solace after their opening defeat on the pitch, with the country’s extensive electricity production from hydroelectric power stations meriting the country a runners-up spot in the carbon bootprint league.

Meanwhile, Euro 2016 hosts France also put in a good show, with the nation generating around three quarters of its electricity from nuclear reactors. As a major exporter of clean electricity, France also provides emissions reductions from neighbouring countries, including the UK.

The tournament’s worst performance comes from one of the co-hosts of Euro 2012, Poland, due to the fact the country generates the vast majority of its electricity supply from coal.

Euro 2016 carbon bootprint: League table

1) Iceland

2) Albania

3) Sweden

4) Switzerland

5) France

6) Belgium

7) Slovak Republic

8) Austria

9) Portugal

10) Spain

11) Hungary

12) Croatia

13) Italy

14) Republic of Ireland

15) Northern Ireland              

16) Germany

17) England

18) Wales

19) Russia

20) Ukraine

21) Turkey

22) Romania

23) Czech Republic

24) Poland

Commenting on the findings, the Carbon Trust’s managing director of business advice Hugh Jones said: “To address the challenge of climate change we are going to need to provide a lot more low carbon electricity and transition away from the use of fossil fuels. Our analysis highlights that some countries have already achieved a lot, in part thanks to abundant renewable energy resources.

“But many European countries are currently going through ambitious low carbon energy transitions that are setting an example for the rest of the world. For example, Portugal recently went four days without using fossil fuels to provide electricity. And over the past month more electricity in the UK was provided by solar panels than by coal power plants.

“At the same time as producing more clean electricity, it is also important to help people to use energy more efficiently. In any country an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint while watching Euro 2016 is to come together locally and share a screen with family, friends and neighbours. This comes with the added benefit of creating a far better atmosphere for cheering on your team.”

Euro 2016 Eco-Calculator

The Carbon Trust also looked at the impact of watching games on smartphones and tablets. A game watched in lower resolution on a smartphone has an impact over three times greater than watching on a TV, and a match viewed in high definition on a tablet can be 12 times more carbon intensive. Watching on a smartphone in standard definition can be 40 times greater than a digital terrestrial signal on an LED smart TV, whilst watching in high definition on a tablet across a fast mobile network can be a more than 180 times more carbon intensive.

UEFA has committed to developing an innovative and pragmatic approach to reduce the environmental impact of its operations, including at the Euro 2016 tournament. The organisation has worked with the Climate Friendly organisation to develop the UEFA Euro 2016 Eco-Calculator, enabling fans travelling to France to explore how their journey to the tournament contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

George Ogleby

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