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Games under fire for stance on carbon footprint legacy

The organisers of Glasgow's Commonwealth Games are under pressure for reneging on commitments to deliver a long-term environmental legacy for the sporting spectacle and for backing off from assessing the impact of the event on the climate.

A representative of the ­organising body CG2014 has confirmed there are now no plans to calculate the carbon footprint of the Games, and efforts are instead being aimed at reducing carbon emissions during the 11-day event this summer.

The confession has been ­criticised by Dr Richard Dixon, head of Friends of the Earth Scotland, who said early talks to find ways of compensating for climate damage caused by Glasgow's Commonwealth Games had quickly been abandoned by green groups as a "waste of time".

Dr Dixon has estimated the Games will cause more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, 20,000 tonnes attributable to the air travel of 6500 competitors and officials. The construction of the athletes village is likely to have contributed 2300 tonnes, and much of the rest will come from visitors flying to spectate, he said.

He said: "I shouldn't have to do the calculation, but the organisers haven't honoured their commitment to do that. Glasgow is not alone - at London 2012 there was an initial desire to do something to offset the carbon impact, but in the end they decided it was too difficult."

However, officials had not responded to realistic suggestions for leaving a sustainable environmental legacy, he said.

"There were discussions with organisers about how to achieve a sustainable environmental legacy that would endure long after the games had finished, but those broke down," he said.

"Some good work has been done with solar panels at the athletes village, but the global impact of the games in terms of carbon emissions hasn't been addressed and that's very disappointing."

Despite the challenges, it is possible for the organisers of big events to deliver imaginative carbon off-setting ideas, he said.

The Gleneagles G8 Summit saw participants installing solar water heaters and low-energy light bulbs in a South African township, to help counterbalance the climate impact of the meeting of global leaders.

The Commonwealth Games could have supported the Solar Aid project which aims to eliminate use of kerosene lamps in African villages by 2020, Dr Dixon said.

"One million people could have benefited from this, for not a lot of money and it would have been a nice story. Instead, while some good work has been done with solar panels at the athletes' village, there is no fundamental legacy. There is no new wind farm, no solar panels on all the venues."

Initial talks had broken down because green campaigners did not think their ideas were being listened to, he added. "The meetings were a waste of time as officials were not responding to suggestions."

Dr Dixon added: "The Commonwealth is full of poor countries and investment in them would be a double bonus," he said. "That is where we are disappointed. They could have done more to offset carbon emissions."

Organisers have installed solar panels on 700 homes in the athletes village, and plan to use electric vehicles and an energy centre with eco-friendly boilers.

Gareth Talbot, the environment and sustainability manager for Glasgow 2014 said: "We are committed to delivering a sustainable Commonwealth Games.

"At the bid stage the importance of sustainability was recognised and this was highlighted by the preparation of a strategic environmental assessment and the development of sustainability policies to guide the delivery of the Games."

Contextual targeting label: 
Environment

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