FitPlanet defines an event’s climate footprint as including all direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced in the planning and production of the event. For events, the primary GHG produced is carbon dioxide. The largest component of the climate footprint for any event typically comes from travel, including athlete, staff, volunteer, and spectator travel. Based on our experience working with events, FitPlanet estimates travel represents between 70% and 80% of an event’s total climate footprint.
On average, every mile you drive produces about one pound of carbon dioxide. Flying produces a slightly higher amount per passenger seat and experts suggest that CO2 emitted at altitude is more damaging to the environment that CO2 emitted on the ground.
The other primary contributor to GHG emissions comes from race-day operations. This includes the emissions from vehicles used, and power drawn from the grid (typically coal-fired power plant) or from mobile diesel or gasoline generators used to power sound, lighting, timing systems, etc.
Another significant contributor to GHG emissions that should not be overlooked, particularly important for large events, is the climate footprint of the pre-event expo.
An event of 300-400 people that caters to the local community will produce perhaps 30-50 tons of CO2, the majority of that coming from travel. A large marathon of 15,000-plus people will produce thousands of tons of CO2. Again, most of that footprint is from car and air travel.
This chapter provides recommendations for (1) reducing and (2) offsetting your climate footprint. You should focus first on reducing your footprint. What you can’t reduce, you should consider offsetting. Visit FitPlanet’s CO2 and U page on our website for more information.
Through a combination of reduction and offsetting you can produce a “carbon neutral” event. Carbon neutral means that the net greenhouse gas emissions produced by the event is zero.
To become carbon neutral you need to (1) estimate the climate footprint of your event. Then you need to (2) determine the cost of buying carbon credits - FitPlanet recommends supporting local offset projects. Once you’ve determined the cost of being carbon neutral, you need to (3) determine the mechanism for covering the cost, which is covered in the Offset section of this chapter.
FitPlanet can provide support every step of the way to help you achieve carbon neutrality. We can calculate the climate footprint, we have relationships with leading offset providers, and we can help you identify appropriate offset projects for your event.