diamond geezer

 Thursday, December 03, 2009

London 2012  Olympic update

One of my least favourite words is "sustainability". It's a very 21st century word, popularised by well-meaning bureaucrats with something to prove. It embodies an excellent concept, crucial to our civilisation's future survival. But it's also a buzzword of the very worst kind, liberally attached to visions, targets and mission statements, and invariably accompanied by unmeasurable greenwash jargon. Whenever I see the word "sustainability", there's invariably bland consultant-driven waffle close by.

So I trembled on hearing that the London 2012 team had issued an updated version of their Sustainability Plan. Nevertheless, I forced myself to read all 102 pages, because I'm a masochist like that. I'm pleased to be able to reassure you that there are many well-motivated plans and inspirational aspirations within. But sorry Seb, I'm not going to dwell on those, I'm going to concentrate on the drivelly bits.

Let's start with the headline claim in the press release.
"‘Green build’ on track with 15 per cent reduction in carbon emissions already achieved as carbon footprint published"
Unlike most companies or communities, the London 2012 Games are a one-off project. Building a stadium only happens once - you can't build it a second time - so no actual reduction in carbon emissions can occur. Reading further down the press release it turns out the ODA are merely "reducing potential emissions", i.e. they're crowing about a 15% reduction on what might have happened. Yes, this is indeed "an innovative approach to carbon footprinting: to use the methodology as a forward-looking impact assessment." Highly creditable for sure, but phrased as headline-grabbing drivel.

OK, to the report proper. What's it called?
"Towards a one planet 2012"
Oh good grief. What is an Olympic Games if not a "one planet" event. Even the 1908 Games were aspirationally "one planet", and there wasn't a sustainability consultant to be seen. Yes, I'm well aware that this phraseology is "derived from the WWF/BioRegional concept of One Planet Living®", but the term is woefully misplaced here.

Reading through the early part of the report, I was struck that London 2012's sustainability focus appeared less about cutting overall emissions and more about inspiring people to behave more sustainably.
"We believe that the cumulative benefits of the legacy developments, wider adoption of our methods and practices, and behavioural change initiatives will fully justify our ambition to deliver a truly sustainable Games."
The ODA clearly realise that digging up a huge chunk of East London could never be genuinely carbon-friendly. But at least using recycled water in the stadium toilets might inspire a few families to make "more sustainable purchasing and consumption choices". So that's alright then. And there are a few other quick wins...
"London 2012 Sustainability Partner EDF is committed to providing low-carbon fuel solution for the flames of the Olympic torch and the cauldron and is currently reviewing the technical feasibility of different options."
There's maximal sustainability drilldown for you. Meanwhile you may remember that, during the bidding process, London 2012 committed itself to being a "zero waste" Games. Alas this turns out to be not quite as fantastic as it sounds.
"For the purposes of London 2012, zero waste is defined as ‘zero waste direct to landfill from Games-time activities’"
Throw away a crisp packet in the Velodrome on event day and it should get recycled. But as for pre-Games waste disposal via sustainable transport, that's not currently quite so impressive.
"The waterways are used to transport timber, plasterboard, plastics, mixed recycling, cardboard, paper, glass, and cans, and general waste out of the Park. Currently one barge per week removes waste from the Park."
I could go on. I could despair that one of London 2012's six Sustainability Partners is car manufacturer BMW. I could weep at any document which rhapsodises about "telling the carbon story". And I could try to prop your eyelids open during the bit about "incorporating sustainability considerations into the material aspects of post-Games dissolution strategies". But you get the idea.

Actions speak louder than words, but Sustainability Plans usually exemplify quite the opposite. They're written by people who should have stopped on page 8, but instead went on and on and on and on. I trust that this wasteful document exists only as a pdf, and that no overpaid consultant has dared to print out umpteen copies on sheets of glossy rainforest.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this month?
28 Jan – 23 Apr (10am-4.30pm)
Sussex Modernism
The sixth annual exhibition at Two Temple Place focuses on radical art/writing in Sussex, and is damned excellent.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Feb17  Jan17
Dec16 Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards