Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

Now football's gone eco-friendly, I'm a fan
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The Independent Online

They say you should try everything once except morris dancing and incest - which is how I found myself at Highbury football ground watching my first football match. My squeeze is a compulsive Arsenal supporter, so I'd treated us to a couple of tickets for his birthday. Football bores me rigid, so this was a spectacularly saintly present.

But no good deed goes unpunished. As a Siberian wind pierced my layers of Arsenal kit worn over organic thermal underwear, I thought incest and morris dancing might at least have kept me warm. But 90 minutes would be just enough time to work out my lifetime (off the scale) carbon footprint.

A penchant for long-distance travel means I owe www.climatecare.org a huge cheque. Yes, it may just be a salve to my conscience, but protecting English native woodland and providing South African schools with free eco-friendly lighting has to be better than a kick in the teeth. As I did my sums on the back of the Arsenal programme, I tried not to be distracted by the testosterone-fuelled surges of excitement all around.

Unfortunately, being out of sync with the general mood meant that whenever there was a goal I nearly got my jaw dislocated by a surge of muscly men leaping up around me. How I wished I'd brought my cycle mask or some form of body armour for protection. My squeeze was no use, having morphed into a tribal, warlike creature singing songs and waving his arms in an alarming manner - rather like a wind turbine during a storm.

Once I'd finished my carbon footprint sums (am too embarrassed to share), I read the programme and was excited to see that the new Arsenal stadium will be one of the most eco-friendly in the country. Hi-tech ventilation will minimise the need for air conditioning, solar panels will generate electricity and green roofs will provide bio- diversity and insulation. Rainwater will be collected and stored for re-use in irrigation and toilet flushing. By re-using and recycling all demolition waste, the project will cut waste landfill by 70 per cent.

But Arsenal face stiff competition from Manchester City, who are to install a wind turbine at their ground. The turbine, designed by Lord Foster, should generate enough power for 4,000 homes and will have a viewing platform and a classroom where children will learn about renewable energy.

Meanwhile, this June's World Cup in Germany will be the greenest sporting event ever. The organisers plan a completely climate-neutral event. Much of the carbon generated by the increase in road traffic will be offset by environmental projects in India. The German Football Association is investing €500,000 in an aid programme in Tamil Nadu, which was severely affected by the tsunami disaster. Local companies will build facilities to convert cow dung into biogas, conveyed by pipe to cooking plates in homes. So eco-friendly biogas replaces kerosene and wood, protecting forests and reducing damage to the global climate.

During the World Cup, messages will appear on public transport and billboards all over Germany, as well as on scoreboards during games. Spectators will probably be too busy thumping each other to notice, but I shall be tuning in at home with my squeeze (at last a shared interest!) trying not to be distracted by the football as I don't want to miss the "must-see" eco-friendly messages. Roll on June!

j.stephenson@independent.co.uk

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