The 2016 Euros is the largest European football tournament so far, with 24 teams (up from 16) competing for the trophy. It’s expected to have the highest attendance in history with 2.5m fans packing into the ten stadia in ten French cities. The environmental impact is likely to be huge, but UEFA has been making an unprecedented effort to mitigate the impact.
Fan behaviour will play a big part in the tournament’s impact on the environment. To help influence that behaviour, even before they leave home, UEFA has commissioned an eco-calculator that allows you to select a destination, and plot the potential eco-impact of your trip. It shows the potential emissions from your chosen method of transport and gives you the option of a more eco-friendly alternative so you can offset the emissions from your journey with a renewable energy project.
Transport is expected to account for 75% of the tournament’s environmental footprint. A sponsorship deal with SNCF is intended to promote use of the national rail network over less eco-friendly alternatives, especially air, for fans travelling between match cities. Train timetables have also been adapted to work around match times.
A deliberate lack of fan parking facilities at stadia should also help to discourage driving in the centre of town, though there are ‘park and ride’ schemes with shuttle buses ferrying fans from car parks to their stadium. There are also dedicated pedestrian zones around the stadia to encourage eco-friendly walking.
UEFA claims its staff have also been travelling between cities by rail wherever possible, rather than road or air, to help reduce their carbon footprint. And they’ve been reducing travel overall by providing videoconferencing facilities in all their main offices.
3Rs – reduce, re-use and recycle
The estimated 2.5m fans (around twice as many as the championships in Poland and Ukraine in 2012) will produce a lot of waste, and UEFA has promised a 50% recycling rate, with zero waste to landfill. That’s a pretty tall order, but the group hopes to achieve it with initiatives like reusable cups throughout, severe reductions in the number of printed documents, less packaging where possible, reusing materials for other events and donating surpluses.
Many of the ten stadia in ten cities already make use of renewable energy sources including solar, wind and geothermal. Of course, these sources can only provide part of the energy requirement, but UEFA is apparently making efforts to optimise its use of electrical equipment and using generators equipped with diesel particulate filters.
Rather than pumping fresh water from the mains for all their water uses, many of the French stadia make a point of collecting rainwater, which can be recycled for watering pitches and other uses.