Football’s foul emissions
The fans of Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea are being encouraged to walk, cycle or take public transport to the two London clubs’ match on 19 September instead of driving, as the Premier League attempts to host elite football’s first carbon-neutral match.
It’s a laudable aim. When tens of thousands of people gather, there’s bound to be a carbon burden. And while individual hobbies – having a dog, driving a classic car, enjoying sport – should be given more leeway than big business (life is miserable enough without feeling guilty about Fido’s methane output), there’s no doubt that elite football is both.
Spurs want fewer than 23% of its fans to drive to its games this season. And less car use is great – provided there’s a realistic alternative. If I were only to take public transport to watch my local club, they would have to play every Friday between noon and 2pm so I could catch the week’s only bus.
But while you’re walking in the rain to the station or cycling home in near darkness, consider the industry behind Chelsea’s financial firepower. Bankroller Roman Abramovich’s steel-making and mining company, Evraz, produces 43.57 million tonnes of CO2 (or greenhouse gas equivalent) every year. Which means that during a single 90-minute match, Evraz will push 7641 tonnes of CO2e into our atmosphere. It’s the same as driving a Toyota Yaris for 50 million miles.
Yes, this is top-flight whataboutery, and I know that the less individual consumerism there is, the less Evraz should emit. But during the past four years, its emissions have increased by nearly 7%. So while we’re putting ourselves out for the greater good, I do wonder: are we being asked to do more than our share of the legwork?