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London's green Games: climate change

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Managing carbon emissions

The original One Planet Olympic vision of a zero carbon Games was an unprecedented and ambitious one.  As the Olympics gain momentum, the ODA have recognised the challenges they face and since the original bid was submitted have moved away from talking about zero carbon and now use terms like carbon reduction, and carbon mitigation. 

The ODA plan to use low carbon technology to minimise emissions, but even this will produce some carbon.  Add to this the estimated 35,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide generated through international travel to London by competitors, officials and members of the Olympic Family and the level of greenhouse emissions soon rise.  To ensure that any carbon produced has a minimum impact, the ODA plan to follow a carbon offsetting approach where they elect to remove the equivalent amount of carbon produced from another part of the atmosphere. They will also work with the government to buy carbon credits from smaller organisations and developing nations. 

Managing transport

An effective transport plan is an essential part of reducing carbon emissions and where private transport is necessary the most carbon-efficient fleet of vehicles will be used to ferry officials and competitors to and from venues. This will be offset by campaigns to encourage the public to use public transport, cycle and walk to events.  Over eight kilometres of waterways in and around the Olympic Park are being used to transport materials by barge and take lorries off the roads during the construction phase.

The London 2012 sustainability plan has these priorities:

Getting ready

To reduce the greenhouses gases associated with the Olympic Park and venues the organisers have a committment to:

  • designing buildings which will use less energy
  • using lower carbon alternatives
  • building a wind turbine
  • selecting materials that require less energy to produce them
  • Transporting half of the materials (by weight) we will need to construct the venues at the Olympic Park by water or rail.

Games time

To help reduce greenhouse gas emissions at Games time the ODA will:

  • encourage ticketed spectators and workforce to travel to and from venues by public transport, walking and cycling
  • encourage the use of rail rather than air transport
  • operate all competition venues as ‘low emissions venues’; and
  • meet 20 per cent of the Olympic Park Games-time electricity requirements with new local renewable energy sources.


As far as possible, the organisers will ensure that everything that is being constructed can be used and improved upon in the future. For example, it is planned that the communities that remain in and around the Olympic Park after the Games will be able to access local renewable energy sources as new, low/zero carbon fuels become available.

After the Games, at least 20 per cent of energy requirements will be supplied by on-site renewable energy sources.

The close proximity of the Park to transport connections and the creation of new footpaths and cycle routes will help reduce car dependency.

Getting started with the British Library's collections

Adapting to climate change : lessons for London. 
London Climate Change Partnership, 2006. 
DS shelfmark m06/36271

Jane Bicknell et al (eds).  Adapting cities to climate change: understanding and addressing the development challenges
Earthscan, 2009. 
DS shelfmark m09/27410

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