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SEEDS OF FUTURE - How the Paris 2024 Olympic Games could be the biggest climate neutral event of all time.

Edoardo Bertin
In 2024, Paris will host the Olympic Games. The historic city is one of the most visited by tourists each year. It has given its name to the biggest climate protection accord, The Paris Agreement of 2015. 
For the last ten years, France showed growing efforts to lead its European partners in reducing their carbon emissions. 
2024 will be the ideal occasion for France to set an example in organizing a climate neutral major event like the Olympic Games.

Let’s jump to 2024, and immerse ourselves in these first Climate neutral Olympic Games in History: 

Why are climate neutral Olympic Games so important?
Scientists have demonstrated the effects of greenhouse gases with the increasing global temperature and the impacts of climate-related issues. Inclusive and international events like the Olympic Games can be the occasion to educate people and improve awareness about this problem. A climate neutral Paris 2024 could be a global example of an inclusive event bringing all nations together without generating adverse effects on the environment (mainly caused by transportation).
A climate neutral event is entirely environmentally friendly, reducing its emission at a maximum. In addition, it contributes to sustainable projects that capture or avoid CO2 to balance its residual emissions.
The lowest carbon footprint ever seen. 

Venue constructions are known to be part of every Olympic Games (OG)  preparation. They are responsible for a significant portion of the carbon emissions related to the organization of such events. 

Paris 2024 will set a new standard on this matter as the city will mainly rely on existing venues and furniture (95% of them). Among these, 100% of them will be reused after the games by schools, local associations, and sports clubs. Some of the buildings will be built or renovated to make them energy positive thanks to solar panels, better thermal insulation, and vegetation.

All the venues will rely on renewable local energy sources: existing heat networks, biomass boiler, photovoltaic, hydraulic pumping of Seine water...

All the OG venues will be connected by green transportation networks. People will reach the facilities on foot, by bike, or by green public transport (rail, electric shuttle, bicycles and electric scooters…)

The city will offer advantageous tariffs to visitors using non-polluting means of transportation.

All the athletes, officials and staff members will exclusively use 0 emission vehicles.

France already has one of the most ambitious urban modernization plans in Europe. Up to 2024, the country will reinforce its regulation and norms on building energy performance. All the venues will be certified with all the major environmental standards: HQE (“Haute qualité environmental”), ISO 20121...

The Games’ facilities will be located in a narrow zone so that visitors can stay in the same place during the event. The Olympic village will be transformed into an eco-neighborhood after the Games. This area is expected to host 6000 residents (offices, student rooms, social housing).

Paris has set another ambitious goal: to count on 100ha of rooftops and walls allocated to vegetation and 30ha dedicated to urban agriculture.

Food & Drinks
France has already taken action on the food waste issue. Today, grocery stores are not allowed to throw-away food and instead they must give it to people in need and charities… For the 2024 Olympic Games, Paris should make sure that this applies as well to restaurants and food trucks located near the Games’ facilities.

As take-away and restaurant home deliveries are more and more common, Paris should also implement regulations, which require restaurants and fast food chains to use the least possible and 100% recyclable packaging.

Offsetted carbon emissions to reach climate neutrality
Even with the best standards and regulations, it is probable that such significant events will have a tremendous carbon footprint caused by the accommodations, food and water consumption, air conditioning, etc...

To fulfill its goal of organizing the first Climate Neutral Olympic Games, Paris should also have a clear and operational carbon offsetting program. The city could choose to offset the emissions of such an event by contributing to sustainable projects around the world. One way to choose these projects could be by engaging the olympians in the decision making, where they would vote on their favorite projects and offset the emissions of the event.

Visitors carbon offsetting
Paris should use a solution to allow Olympic Games’ visitors to measure their footprint and to enable them to compensate for their carbon emissions related to the goods or services bought. 
People are more and more concerned about environmental issues, for this reason they would probably be happy to make a positive impact to preserve their planet. 
They should be able to do it for their transportation, food consumption, other purchases, all along with their experience at the Olympic games. 
Climate-actions can become a source of inspiration, giving the possibility to visitors to encourage and communicate with their friends about their positive environmental contributions. 
Digital technology and social networks will ensure transparency, shareability and will make this climate-action affordable to everybody. 
Through the contribution of sustainable projects, the OG can empower its participants, visitors and even communities around the world by supporting the UN SDGs, most importantly SDG17 (global partnerships) and SDG13 (climate action). 

People empowerment will lead these OG to set a new and higher standard for international events of this magnitude and set an example around the world of sustainability.

Article written by Edoardo Bertin

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