Norway to help SA 'score green' in 2010

The Norwegian government will help the City of Johannesburg ensure it has a “green 2010 Soccer World Cup”.

This was announced on Thursday by Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg at Soccer City in Johannesburg, the venue for both the opening ceremony and the final match of the 2010 tournament.

Norway will finance a feasibility study for a comprehensive carbon-offset project and donate one million Norwegian kroner (about R1,2-million) to tree planting in Johannesburg.

The city’s World Cup executive director, Sibongile Mazibuko, said that “2010 will attract large numbers of visitors to our city. An increase in travel—both by air and road—and the rising levels of energy consumption will have an impact on Johannesburg’s carbon footprint.

“Through innovation and creative planning we can introduce carbon-offset measures [like planting trees] to mitigate the impact of the event on our environment.

“Norway has been among the global leaders in research in this field and we welcome their contribution to this initiative.”

Norwegian ambassador Tor Christian Hildan said the embassy has met the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to explore initiatives to make the World Cup as environmentally friendly as possible.

“Our intention is to build partnerships and contribute to the goal of scoring ‘green’ in 2010,” said Hildan. “A decision was taken that the most relevant area of support would be carbon offsetting of the event to ensure that the ‘carbon footprint’ of 2010 is as low as possible.”

The Norwegian government has committed 500 000 Norwegian kroner (about R750 000) for a feasibility study of a carbon-offsetting programme.

Norwegian institutions will work together with the environment department, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and local institutions to study measures that can be taken to reduce the carbon footprint of the World Cup. It is expected that transport will be a key issue.

The Norwegian government also indicated it is willing to commit an additional eight million Norwegian kroner (R10-million) to implement measures that will mitigate the carbon footprint of the event.

The impact of carbon-dioxide emissions is an area of serious concern for the planners of big global events such as 2010.

“We are preparing for the impact our 2010 visitors will have on our environment. Working with the Norwegian institutions will give us an indication of the scale of the expected impact and enable us to introduce pro-active measures to reduce the carbon footprint,” said Mazibuko.

“In this way we will ensure that the World Cup is not only a big event for football lovers in South Africa and across the globe, but that we will also ‘score green’ in 2010,” she said.—Sapa

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