London 2012 reports substantial CO2 savings

The London 2012 Olympic games has achieved carbon emissions savings of around 400,000 tons, despite larger than expected spectator-related emissions, according to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic games (LOCOG).

Publishing its post-games sustainability report today, LOCOG said the popular success of the London games, which included 1.5m people lining the route of the Olympic Torch relay and full venues throughout the games, led to an increased ‘actual’ overall carbon footprint.

Spectator numbers substantially exceeded expectations leading to an increased footprint for spectators from 670,000 tons of CO2 emissions to an ‘actual’ footprint of 913,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

The increase was mainly due to the impact of travel, but also included revised estimates for accommodation, catering, merchandise and waste.

Speaking at London 2012′ final Sustainability Briefing earlier today, David Stubbs, head of sustainability for LOCOG, said: “Ironically, because of the success of the games the footprint of spectator travel was much higher than we estimated.

“However, it more or less nets out the same with 3.3m tons of CO2 emissions instead of 3.4m tons of CO2 emissions” added Stubbs.

On the construction side, the games was able to avoid 15% less carbon emissions than originally projected, while the operational side recorded a 28% drop from the original estimate.

“We set out a reference footprint but we didn’t know what the impact of the games would be because nobody had ever measured it before. There was no baseline to work back to,” said Stubbs.

“We looked at what we had promised, the cost and we used other proxy’s from other venues and events where we could, and estimated a target”.

Other achievements included 100% waste diverted from landfill, with 99% of total waste being re-used or recycled.

The games also encouraged more sustainable forms of transport and recorded a 29% rise in cyclists during the games, while in East London this figure rose to 58% and 158% rise in pedestrians.

Last week, London 2012 won the Sustainable Transport award at the Sustainability Leaders Awards, organised by edie and Sustainable Business magazine, for its Active Travel programme.

Commenting on the prospect of a truly sustainable games, chair of London 2012 Sustainability Ambassadors, Jonathon Porritt, said at the briefing: “I have always balked at the idea of using the phrase a completely sustainable Olympic games because quite honestly, maybe we’ll see one of those sometime in the distant future but we’re not there yet.

“And that’s not surprising when you think about the scale of what we’ve delivered through the Olympic games,” he added.

Leigh Stringer

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