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How the Paris 2024 Olympic Games could contribute to Net Zero emissions?

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 net-zero emissions major event like the Olympic Games.

Let’s jump to 2024, and immerse ourselves in these first Olympic Games in History that contribute to global carbon neutrality: 

Why are Net Zero 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 Net Zero Paris 2024 Olympic Games 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 Net Zero emissions event is entirely environmentally friendly, reducing its emission at a maximum. In addition, it contributes to sustainable projects that capture or avoid CO2 and preserve biodiversity in order to generate positive impacts. 
The highest positive impact event 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 low 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.

Climate contributions to reach global carbon neutrality
Even with the best standards and regulations, it is likely that such significant events will have a significant carbon footprint caused by the accommodations, food and water consumption, air conditioning, etc...

To fulfill its goal of organizing the first Net Zero Olympic Games, Paris should also have a clear and operational climate contribution program. The city could choose make climate contributions by supporting emission reduction projects around the world. One way to choose these projects could be by engaging the Olympians in the decision-making, where they would vote for their favorite projects and enhance the positive impacts of the event.

The more we contribute to emission reduction projects, the more we help protect the planet and its biodiversity.

Visitors' climate contributions
Paris should use a solution to allow Olympic Games’ visitors to measure their footprint and to enable them support an emission reduction project that absorbs or avoids CO2 emissions.
People are more and more concerned about environmental issues, for this reason they would probably be happy to generate positive impacts to preserve their planet and protect biodiversity while helping local communities.
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 and social contributions. 
Digital technology and social networks will ensure transparency, shareability and will make this climate-action affordable to everyone. 
Through the contribution to 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 climate action and sustainability. 

Article written by Edoardo Bertin