The Paris 2024 Olympics bid leadership has pledged that its Games would slash carbon emissions by more than half compared to London and Rio if the city won the right to host mega event.
Total public transport, housing athletes close to their events, and sticking to building just one new major venue would make Paris 2024 "the most sustainable Games ever", bid co-president Tony Estanguet told Reuters.
We also have all the infrastructure – roads, hotels, airports – already in place. That allows us to claim we will be the most sustainable Games ever– Tony Estanguet, Paris Olympic bid co-president
The plan would produce around 1.56 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), 55% fewer than the estimated 3.42 million tonnes created by Rio in 2016 and London in 2012, Estanguet said.
Public or shared transport would be used for 100% of spectators while 85% of athletes would be housed within 30 minutes of their competition venues.
The only major new venue would be an aquatics centre.
"We have a very strong concept," said the three-time Olympic canoeing champion and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member. "We will also have low carbon installations for the rare venues we have to build and we will use specific materials to reduce the overall carbon footprint."
Estanguet added: "We also have all the infrastructure – roads, hotels, airports – already in place. That allows us to claim we will be the most sustainable Games ever."
"The experts we used to asses the project are exactly the same ones who evaluated the carbon footprint for the past Games," he said.
Paris is bidding for the Olympics against Los Angeles and Budapest, with the IOC set to select the winning candidate in September.
Sustainability and affordability have become priorities for cities bidding for the Olympics, with the budget-busting costs of Sochi and London turning cities from the developed world away from the event. This played out dramatically in 2014 when Stockholm, Krakow, Munich, Davos, Barcelona, Oslo and Quebec City all dropped out of the race for the 2022 Winter Olympics owing to a lack of popular support.
For the Summer 2024 Games Boston, Hamburg, Toronto and Rome also pulled out.
Researchers at Said Business School, University of Oxford, calculate that from 1968 to 2016, every single Olympic Games ended up costing more than originally estimated. The average cost overrun is 156%.
Los Angeles, the only city ever to make a profit from the Games in 1984, is also pursuing a lean, "mend-and-make-do" approach, with athletes to be housed in university dormitories.
"For us the legacy of the Games will not be in equipment," Paris’s Estanguet said. "We want to invest our money, time, energy in leaving a legacy for people in the way of educating them … on sustainability."
Image: Paris unveiled its Eiffel-Tower-themed Olympics logo last year (City of Paris)