Football: World Cup in S.Africa to pollute nine times more

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The 2010 football World Cup in South Africa will pollute the planet nine times more than the 2006 edition in Germany because of teams' and fans' long flights, officials said Monday.

"We expect that the global footprint of the South African World Cup will be nine times higher than in Germany," Dorah Nteo, the director of South Africa's governmental climate agency DEAT, told reporters in Copenhagen.

The lion's share of the pollution, 85 percent, was expected to come from air transport to South Africa, but also from flights criss-crossing the country to the event's various sites.

The southern tip of Africa is far from the main concentration of football fans in Europe and the Americas, and will therefore require flights of thousands of kilometres (miles).

The total carbon dioxide emissions caused by South Africa's World Cup will also be twice those of the Beijing Olympics last year, UN officials said.

"The estimate that we have at the moment for this World Cup's emissions is 2.75 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent. You can compare that to the Beijing Olympic Games where they were 1.18 million tonnes," Theodore Oben, a UN Environment Programme spokesman, said.

The 400,000 football fans expected to descend upon South Africa from around the world are expected to log more than 7.1 million kilometres (4.4 million miles) to reach the host country, which will cause emissions exceeding 1.6 million tonnes of CO2, according to UN documents seen by AFP.

The UN has urged fans to "compensate" for their CO2 emissions when buying their airline tickets and is currently in talks with teams to do the same.

About 20 of the 32 qualified teams, including Brazil, Britain, France, Italy and the United States, have already expressed their willingness to do so and no team has outright rejected the proposal, the UN said.

In total, including teams and fans, the UN estimates that some 33 million dollars (20 million euros) will be needed to compensate for the CO2 emissions caused by international flights to South Africa.