Thursday, 29 December 2011

Five Gold Rings

We're now three days away from the start of 2012, a big year for the UK and a big year for the environment. We'll be seeing lots of five rings and (hopefully) gold over the next 9 months with adverts for the Olympics already appearing here and there.

2012 is also the year when the Kyoto agreement ends, the long awaited Earth Summit is held in Rio and the  final year of the UK's first carbon budget. These, among other landmark environmental events, mean that the focus is on sustainability this summer and the UK's pledge in 2005 was to make these games as green as possible. 

Initially organisers pushed carbon offsetting but since the consensus is now that this method merely justifies using lots of energy at a cost to someone else thoughts have moved to reduction and recycling with a mind to minimise the games direct negative environmental impact.

EDF, the primary energy provider for the games, will be generating 24MW of renewable energy specifically for the Olympics. For some perspective this is only one megawatt more than a single square kilometre of Central London would use but, since Central London uses more energy than anywhere else in Europe, if the games can keep their energy use low this could mean an almost entirely renewables powered Olympics.

Another good sign is the aim that 90 percent of construction waste from the games will either be reused of recycled. This is great as over half of the total CO2 emissions from the games will come from the construction process. 

The games are estimated to produce 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 which is about 0.6% of the total annual UK emissions. This is the first time that any city has attempted to track all the embedded energy and emissions from an Olympics games, from construction materials to transport through to electricity consumption. Let's hope they really can make it the greenest games ever.

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