Climate Crisis vs Euro 2020 Football Tournament.


At a time when the world is attempting to tackle the threat of "irreversible" climate change, is it really necessary that players, officials and fans will be criss-crossing the continent like never before?

Euro 2020 promises to be a tournament like no other, staged across more countries than any international football event in history.

Huge distances, high emissions

Previous European Championships have been staged either in one country or shared between two hosts, meaning long-distance travel - and therefore carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - has been limited. It has also necessitated less of a reliance on flying, with trains and other forms of transport viable alternatives.

But that will rarely be the case at Euro 2020.

If the tournament goes according to seedings, a Switzerland fan following their team would have to travel 20,377km (12,662 miles), further than supporters of any other country. It would involve three separate trips to Baku, with matches in Rome and Amsterdam in between. That total distance is around the equivalent of flying from London to New York and back - twice. Their total would rise to 21,656km if they were to reach the final.

To put these distances into a climate context, a Swiss quarter-final exit (if results go according to seedings) would give each of those fans flying to games an estimated footprint of 3,973kg of CO2 (almost four tonnes). That is about the world average per person for all activities for an entire year (4,000kg), although it is higher in the Western world. The UK average is 10,000kg.

Of the British teams involved, Wales fans face the biggest journeys. Like Switzerland, they have games in Baku and Rome and if they go out in the group stage - as their seeding would suggest they might - those trips would see their fans rack up 8,892km. If they were to finish as group runners-up and then make it to the quarter-finals, another trip to Baku would await, taking that tally to 16,410km.

What is Uefa doing to reduce the impact of Euro 2020?

Uefa says it is "committed to ensuring the sustainability" of the Euros and has already offset the carbon flight emissions of all spectators, teams and Uefa officials travelling to and from matches via "gold standard" programmes. It has done this based on full capacity in stadiums.

It also points to the fact that only one new stadium - in Budapest, Hungary - has been built for this competition. By contrast, four out of 10 host stadiums were newly constructed for Euro 2016 in France.

What do climate experts say?

But climate campaigners say such mitigation is not enough and far more radical change is needed.

"Uefa has gone down the offsetting route before" said Andrew Simms, Rapid Transition Alliance co-ordinator and co-director of New Weather Institute.

"There are arguments which suggest that thinking you can offset prevents other change and makes business as usual even more likely.

"That means you have to think about the design of competitions and you have to think of minimising impact as a key design criteria of how you run things. So coming up with a competition across 11 countries is the very opposite of that.

"It's almost like going out and saying: How can we design a competition to maximise our environmental impact?

"We are already heading beyond the climate red lines and anything more we do is going to accelerate the speed at which we cross them.

"A competition like this is clearly not compatible with staying the right side of those red lines, but almost worse than that direct carbon impact is the way it sends a message that it is not a problem that is sufficiently important for the sport to deal with when we know it's fundamentally important that society addresses it.

"It implies the laws of physics don't apply to Uefa and that is a very bad signal to send. It is toxic, damaging and dangerous.

"It's not until you get bodies like Uefa standing up and accepting that they are fundamentally part of the problem that meaningful change will happen."

ZERO 2030: The point of ‘NO RETURN’ is getting closer (2030).

Football (and all other sports) MUST CHANGE!

…Ronnie Tutt. MLGM: Sustainability Management.
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