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London Olympics Drops Carbon-Offset Plan

Organizers of the London 2012 Olympic Games dropped a plan to cut carbon emissions during the sporting showcase, abandoning a pledge made when it defeated eight other cities to host the event.

Games administrators will “no longer pursue formal offsetting procedures” to mitigate Olympics-related emissions, documents posted on the London Olympics website said.

David Stubbs, the head of sustainability at the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympics Games, or LOCOG, said in an interview that going ahead with the plan would have shifted the focus away from Britain.

Scrapping the plan, which would have involved offsetting the emissions generated by the Games by investing in clean- energy projects in poor countries, underlines how carbon-saving measures are being overlooked to save money as the U.K. cuts spending and increases taxes amid an economic slowdown. By ditching the program, LOCOG may avoid spending as much as 2.7 million pounds ($4.4 million), according to prices quoted by brokers MF Global.

“Officially, if you want to go down certified carbon- offsetting all projects have to be overseas, so if we plant a lot of trees in Essex that just doesn’t count,” said Stubbs, referring to the English county. “Because the Games are in the U.K., we wanted to maximize the Games locally. Doing formal offsetting would be diverting things.”

3.4 Million Tons

LOCOG estimated the construction of facilities, the staging of the Games and transportation of staff and athletes, dating back to the day when the Games were awarded to London, would collectively generate more than 3.4 million metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions, including 438,000 tons from the staging of the event.

Organizers of the Games had intended to compensate for some of the greenhouse-gas emissions generated by the construction and staging of the Olympics by purchasing so-called carbon offsets, or credits, which are created by funding clean- technology projects in developing countries. Greenhouse-gas emissions are blamed for climate change. Offset projects generate carbon credits when they reduce pollution versus a business-as-usual scenario.

Dropping the plan is “not fair,” said Darren Johnson, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, the governing authority for the capital. “Obviously we want the Olympics to benefit London, but environmentally they should be a green Olympics to benefit the whole world as well.”

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