Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

World Cup Touts 'More Sustainable Stadiums' But Some Were Built on Rare Wildlife Habitats

Popular
World Cup Touts 'More Sustainable Stadiums' But Some Were Built on Rare Wildlife Habitats
The Kaliningrad Stadium for the 2018 World Cup was built on a rare urban wetlands, local activists say. Dmitry Rozhkov / CC BY-SA 4.0

When the World Cup kicks off in Russia Thursday, it will be the first World Cup whose stadiums were required by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to incorporate sustainability into their construction and renovation, according to the FIFA report More Sustainable Stadiums.


"Stadiums are key in our efforts to stage a successful and more sustainable FIFA World Cup, which is why FIFA has made green certification mandatory for all arenas used for the event," FIFA head of sustainability and diversity Federico Addiechi said in February, when FIFA announced that three Russian stadiums had already passed certification.

But local Russian activists say some of the green stadiums were nevertheless built on vulnerable ecosystems, ABC News reported Tuesday.

The Kaliningrad Stadium, for example, where England and Spain will play, was built with environmentally friendly materials and energy efficient heating, ventilation and electricity systems, according to a FIFA report.

It was also constructed on top of October Island, a haven for birds and one of Kaliningrad's last wetlands.

"It was a typical delta island, with peat and a wetland reed-bed. It was a little corner of heaven in the city, where birds lived," local ecologist Alexandra Korolyova, who campaigned against the stadium's construction, told ABC News. "Really, if Russia paid more attention to protecting the environment, it could potentially have become a reservation or national park within the city."

Instead, in 2014, part of the wetlands were covered with more than a million tons of sand to prepare the area for construction.

The Kazan Arena, which earned a "silver" according to the "RUSO. THE FOOTBALL STADIUMS" certification developed for the World Cup, was also the site of protests in 2016 due to plans to expand a nearby parking lot over a meadow that protesters said sheltered rare species, ABC News reported.

The stadium in Saransk was also built on a mix of old housing and marshland, but the local minister Alexei Merkushkin told the AP that the area was "the most horrible place in the city," ABC News reported.

"I think the World Cup gave a huge boost to improving the environment in our city even though it was already very good," he said.

Stadiums aren't the only point of contention when it comes to FIFA's efforts to go green.

FIFA was the first international sports organization to sign up to the UN Climate Change's Climate Neutral Now, pledging to offset the emissions of travel to the 2018 World Cup and to go carbon neutral by 2050. But environmental activists say this commitment is undercut by FIFA's sponsorship deal with Russian-owned natural gas company Gazprom, as well as deals with airlines and car companies, Desmog UK reported Monday.

"You cannot encourage climate action while taking money from industries driving the crisis. It's akin to making commitments to public health while taking money from Big Tobacco—it just doesn't pass the smell test," corporate accountability spokesperson Jesse Bragg told Desmog UK.

Plastic bails, left, and aluminum bails, right, are photographed at the Green Waste material recovery facility on Thursday, March 28, 2019, in San Jose, California. Aric Crabb / Digital First Media / Bay Area News via Getty Images

By Courtney Lindwall

Coined in the 1970s, the classic Earth Day mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has encouraged consumers to take stock of the materials they buy, use, and often quickly pitch — all in the name of curbing pollution and saving the earth's resources. Most of us listened, or lord knows we tried. We've carried totes and refused straws and dutifully rinsed yogurt cartons before placing them in the appropriately marked bins. And yet, nearly half a century later, the United States still produces more than 35 million tons of plastic annually, and sends more and more of it into our oceans, lakes, soils, and bodies.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
Trending
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less