The Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024 today revealed it will formally join the global “Race to Zero” campaign, a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) led initiative that seeks to rally businesses, cities and the sports community towards a zero-carbon economic recovery. Paris 2024’s decision to join the initiative was revealed during a sport and climate panel discussion at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, UK.
The panel discussion, which took place at the French Pavilion at COP26, featured Paris 2024’s Director of Environmental Excellence, Georgina Grenon, who laid out the Organising Committee’s sustainability initiatives which aim to reduce carbon emissions linked to the world’s largest sporting event by 50% compared to previous Games.
“The Olympic and Paralympic Games is the biggest event in the world, and we are current facing humanities’ biggest challenges,” said Grenon. “That’s why Paris 2024 has since its bid committed to full alignment with the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions by 50% and host the first Games with a positive impact on the climate,” she added.
Recognising that the ambitious sustainability targets which Paris 2024 has set itself will require a lot of hard work and discipline, Grenon stressed that “this is a race we have to win, and this is where the athletes will inspire us. We all have to become climate athletes. The Paris 2024 Games are an opportunity to do things differently, to get inspired by the athletes, their determination in order to go beyond what has been done before in terms of sustainability.”
Grenon also revealed how Paris 2024’s decision to use 95% of existing or temporary infrastructure was a key factor in keeping carbon emissions down. All infrastructures being built for the Games, such as the Athletes Village and Aquatics Centre, will be low carbon. In addition, the energy used for the Paris 2024 Games will be 100% renewable, all the venues will be reachable with public transports, and the Committee is working on a low carbon food strategy.
As part of Paris 2024’s climate strategy, Paris 2024 also plans to offset emissions which it cannot avoid, predominantly linked to transportation of athletes, delegates and international spectators. This will be achieved by supporting CO2 avoidance and capture projects on all five continents, such as projects to conserve and restore forests and oceans, which are powerful “carbon sinks”; and projects that avoid negative impacts on the climate, for example by providing better cook stoves to populations dependent on rudimentary cooking tools.
Georgina Grenon was joined on the panel by Paris 2024’s Head of Climate and Biodiversity, Benjamin Leveque who discussed Paris 2024’s strategy for achieving its sustainability goals.
Leveque revealed that Paris 2024 has set itself a “carbon allowance” of 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 which has been split equally between travel, construction, and Games-related operations. Leveque also explained how Paris 2024 has incorporated sustainability software which allows all of the different departments within the Organising Committee to measure and track their carbon emissions. Paris 2024 is also ensuring that all of its staff are equipped with tools and knowledge on how to reduce their own personal emissions.
Sport and Climate: setting an example and mobilizing for the Climate
The panel discussion, titled Sport and Climate: setting an example and mobilising for the Climate, was organised by the Paris 2024 Organising Committee at the COP26 French Pavilion in Glasgow, UK. Joining Paris 2024 on the panel were the UNFCCC’s manager for the Global Climate Action team, Niclas Svenningsen, the IOC’s sustainability manager, Julie Duffus, Olympic sailing champion and committed for climate and biodiversity Hannah Mills MBE, and the IDDRI's climate programme director, Lola Vallejo