With the aim of going carbon neutral by 2025, Copenhagen faces a challenge as it prepares to host UEFA Euro 2020 matches — with the accompanying excesses — while minimizing the climate impact.
This year’s tournament is to be spread over 12 European cities ranging from London to Rome and Baku, meaning that fans will crisscross the continent and descend on different cities.
Those supporters would of course need housing, transport and food, all of which will contribute to their carbon footprint.
“It’s always a paradox when you invite people to come to your city... Of course it has an impact on carbon emissions and the environment,” Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen said. “We are focusing on how we can host a huge event with a lower carbon footprint.”
The Danish capital, which was designated the European Green Capital in 2014, is trying to do everything it can to make Euro 2020 as green as possible.
Recycled cups are to be used, organic food is to be served, waste management is to be used and the use of single-use plastics is to be limited.
With the addition of UEFA’s promise to plant 50,000 trees in each of the 12 host countries to offset emissions, Copenhagen claims that it would be able to limit the environmental effects of the four matches that it is to host.
However, Jens Peter Mortensen of the Danish Society for Nature Conservation thinks that more can be done, and efforts could especially be made when it comes to the restaurant business.
“They should definitely do better to prevent the spreading of all single-use plastic,” Mortensen said.
In Copenhagen, there is no need to build anything to host athletes and fans, as the city has the appropriate infrastructure — a 38,000-capacity stadium and a brand new metro.
“It’s not fair to say that the Euro games would have a new impact as there would have been events in the stadium anyway,” Mortensen said.
The absence of any new construction helps reduce the carbon footprint of the event, but neither the city nor the federation know what the final impact is to be.
The footprint in Copenhagen will depend on “many things that will not be clear until the tournament is over — the number of tourists, fans, officials and so on visiting due to the tournament,” Danish Football Union spokeswoman Mia Kjaergaard said.
Maria Figueroa, a professor at the Copenhagen Business School and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, thinks that the Euros can be “an opportunity” to showcase new initiatives.
“I think Copenhagen can show a new path, new ways to host events and at the same time be responsible,” she said.
For Figueroa, this could include raising awareness among visitors to the city.
“As part of an event you need to eat, to be housed, to use transportation. In each one of these areas, there will be opportunities to demonstrate how sustainability can be part of daily life,” Figueroa said.
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