David Stubbs, Head of Sustainability for the 2012 London Olympics, responds robustly to the charge that some of the commercial partners and sponsors chosen for the games are not appropriate for an event which is trying to be as environmentally-friendly as possible.
“We can’t suddenly become a global policeman and run around the world looking at everything every company does,” he says.
There has been criticism over the Olympic link-ups with firms such as oil multinational BP, French electricity company EDF and in particular the American chemical giant Dow, which is now the 100 per cent shareholder of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), whose Indian subsidiary was responsible for the world’s worst ever industrial disaster in Bhopal, India, in 1984 in which several thousand people were killed by escaping cyanide gas.
But Mr Stubbs insists: “All the partners are on board working with us, to our criteria, on what we’re looking for in terms of materials and services and supporting our sustainability agenda, and that is the perspective, the framework, in which we can work.”
He rejects the idea that BP and EDF have bought rather than earned their status as “sustainability partners”. He says:” The notion of sustainability partner wasn’t a badge of honour. It was a commitment by them to work with us to develop our programme and to promote it more effectively.
“They’re not perfect, but if you took out EDF you’d have another energy company, or if you took out BP you’d have another oil company – they’re all similar in that respect.
“You’ve got to work with them. It’s no good just saying, ‘oh they’re bad, therefore ignore them’, because that is futile. It’s just gesture politics, and doesn’t really help anyone.”
Mr Stubbs, 53 and from London, is a zoologist by training and was an ecological consultant before leading the organisation trying to make Europe’s golf courses more environmentally friendly. He has been interested in the environmental side of the Olympics since attending the Sydney games in 2000.
Asked how green he thought the London games would be, on a scale of one to ten, he replied: “Well Denis Oswald [chairman of the IOC coordinating commission who came to London on a pre-games inspection visit] gave us 9.75 out of ten.
“I know that was for everything, but I think I’ll go with that number.”