Euro 2020

Football European Championship 2020 causes hundreds of thousands of tons of CO2 – Euro 2020

by: Adam Smith


While the European Football Association wants to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European Championship with the venues scattered throughout Europe, critics see it as an ecological disaster.

A Polish fan, for example, has to travel 6000 kilometres in ten days to watch his team’s group matches alone: to Dublin in Dublin, on to Spain to the Bilbao stadium and back to Ireland. The quarterfinals will take place in the Hungarian capital Budapest, the quarter-finals in Baku in Azerbaijan. As far as London, where both the semi-finals and the final are played, it is 4000 kilometres from there.

Flights for individual games

In comparison, a round-trip flight was enough for the Euro 2016, within France all venues could be reached by train. It will be the same in four years’ time at the European Championships in Germany.

A total of hundreds of thousands of kilometres of flight will be covered because of the European Championships in the summer, the football festival leaves a gigantic carbon footprint.

“From an ecological point of view, this is total nonsense,” says Karima Delli, green politician from France and chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Committee on and Tourism. “They want to demonstrate the unity of Europe with this format, but they forget about the climate crisis.”

2020 is expected to be the most environmentally friendly EM to date

Uefa, the football association, disagrees: The Euro 2020 will be “the most environmentally friendly tournament to date,” the association explains. For example, the group matches of major football nations such as Germany, England, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, whose fans are “known to travel in their tens of thousands to international tournaments”, would take place in their respective home countries. On match days, public should be free of charge for spectators and more stadium waste will be recycled.

In addition, only one stadium – the Puskés Aréna in Budapest – had been rebuilt for the European Championships. This would save “enormous ecological costs in the consumption of energy and concrete,” UEFA added.

The construction of transgaming.orgs facilities is actually responsible for a large proportion of climate-damaging emissions at international tournaments, says Andrew Welfle of the Tyndall Climate Change Research Centre in Manchester. There is therefore a “huge difference” in carbon dioxide emissions between the 2020 European Championships and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, for which all eight stadiums will be rebuilt or modernised.

UEFA wants to plant trees

The emissions from the fans’ travels are “difficult to calculate,” says Welfle. “The estimates are based on many different assumptions that are more or less realistic.” UEFA calculates that the of teams and spectators during the championship will release 425,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. At Euro 2016 in France it was 517,000 tonnes and at the 2018 World Cup in eleven Russian cities just under 1.5 million tonnes.

In order to compensate for the environmental impact of the upcoming European Championships, UEFA promises to invest in climate protection projects and plant 50,000 trees in each of the participating countries. Researcher Welfle is not convinced by this concept: “Planting trees is good, but this does not change the level of emissions generated by the tournament.” (SDA)

2020 European Championships

The 2020 European Football Championship will be very different: for the first time, the European Championship will be played by more than two nations. Twenty-four teams compete for the coveted most title at 12 venues. Semi-finals and finals will be held at London’s Wembley Stadium.