“Positive” Olympics for the climate? The impossible promise of the 2024 Paris Games

At Pulse, the headquarters of Paris 2024, the carpet is second-hand, bins collect rainwater to supply a vegetable garden on the terrace, 300 square meters of photovoltaic panels provide electricity and you will not find plastic for single use in the restaurant even if a Coca-Cola distributor (sponsor of the International Olympic Committee, IOC, obliges) offers sodas, chips and confectionery.

Located in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis), at the foot of the metro and close to the Stade de France and the future athletes’ village, this building, recognizable by its imposing wooden and gl facade, is ” the laboratory ” of Olympic and Paralympic Games announced as “history for the climate” by the president of the Organizing Committee, Tony Estanguet, and “break” with previous editions. An ambition (and a condition) carried since the first day of the candidacy by the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo: the Games will be green or will not be.

Is this promise of ecological Games credible? Or, in other words, are the Games compatible with the fight against climate change? The world requested the expertise of Eclaircies, an independent non-profit structure bringing together specialists in ecological transition, to analyze the Paris 2024 climate strategy.

A “green” communication that is going backwards

At Paris 2024, proof that climate ambitions are taken seriously, there is an “environmental excellence director”: “A title not always easy to wear”, recognizes with a certain sense of self-mockery Georgina Grenon. To avoid a “greenwashing” lawsuit, like Qatar with its Football World Cup “carbon neutral”Paris 2024 now plays it more modest in its communication.

Exit “the first Games with a positive contribution to the climate”, praised by the Organizing Committee in the document – ​​still a reference – of March 2021 detailing its “climate strategy”. The stated ambition was to” go further “ that the “carbon neutral” in “compensating” more greenhouse gas emissions than those generated by the event. The reference to the “carbon neutral” has also been discreetly abandoned: in an opinion issued in May 2022, the Ecological Transition Agency (Ademe) recalled that the concept only makes sense on the scale of the planet or a country and that it can have a character “misleading” when invoked as part of an event.

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