Brazil’s World Cup, example of sport event with a carbon offset program

I could read a few days ago an article in RTCC about a carbon offset program during Brazil’s World Cup. In this article, it is said that Brazil may have suffered a humiliating defeat on the pitch in this year’s football World Cup, but it won a victory for climate change. That was the upbeat narrative endorsed by a top UN climate official at Brazil’s London embassy last week.

Halldor Thorgeirsson praised the Brazilian government for its scheme to neutralise the tournament’s carbon emissions – a “win-win” model he said could be used for future sporting events.

The Brazilian government wanted to offset the emissions associated with building stadiums, hosting delegations and getting everyone around. Its idea was to invite companies that have been awarded CERs to voluntarily cancel them, instead of selling them.

This would reduce some of the oversupply in the market – and the companies got a shot of good publicity. Estimates of the tournament’s carbon footprint ranged from 59,000 to 2.9 million tonnes, depending on what was counted. The higher figure covered all the supply chain and air travel emissions, including cement and steel used to construct the stadiums. Companies donated 550,000t worth of credits.

Brazilian utility Tractebel Energia was the biggest donor, with 105,000t, followed by chemical company Rhodia on 100,000t, Arcelor Mittal and Gerdau SA on 70,000t each.

Voluntary market

A number of business representatives at the Brazilian embassy meeting were keen to promote voluntary alternatives to the CDM. Unlike the government-led scheme, these can engage fans directly in a conversation about their carbon impact. Allcot is one of them. Allcot is working with Spanish football club Getafe, for example, to offset its emissions.

Fans had a say in which project to support, opting for a rainforest protection scheme in the Brazilian Amazon. At the next home game, the Spanish club will present an award to a “super-fan” who has travelled a long way to each match.

The award is for loyalty, but it is also a hook to explain how the club is offsetting those transport emissions.

And the company’s website sells offsets from named projects for €5-10/t, a price which sends a more meaningful signal than the CDM.