How Green Are the Rio Olympics, Really?

Rio Olympics
Gita Subramony, ERS, for Zondits

In the recently released ACEEE International Energy Efficiency Scorecard, Brazil was one of the lowest-scoring countries, ranking within the bottom three. In a few weeks, they will also be hosting a different type of international competition, the 2016 Summer Olympics.

The organizers of the Rio 2016 games are claiming to have far lower GHG emissions from electricity than other recent Olympic events.
The Rio Olympics are certainly not without controversy. The negative factors include fear of the Zika virus, heavy pollution in waterways used for events and competitions, stadium infrastructure projects that are behind schedule, Brazil’s economic crisis, political scandals, and corruption in the government.

With all of these controversies the Rio Olympics is claiming that sustainability and reducing GHG emissions are priorities for the games, and they even released a report on this. The organizers of the Rio 2016 games are claiming to have far lower GHG emissions from electricity than other recent Olympic events. The chart below is from the report and shows a comparison of the GHG emissions from different Olympic games.

Olympics

The report provides only a general outline of strategies to achieve lower GHG emissions and to create a more sustainable Olympic experience, but it remains to be seen how efficient the games really will be. Given the ongoing problems with corruption, pollution, and construction schedules, it’s hard to believe that the Rio Olympics will really deliver on environmental protection, energy efficiency, or GHG emissions reductions.

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