Disaster, Catastrophe! Champions League Finals Will Cause 36 Minutes Of UK Carbon Emissions


There are indeed things we should worry about and then there are those things we shouldn’t. Things we shouldn’t worry about on philosophic grounds, like other peoples’ drug consumption. Their body, theirs to screw up, that’s that dealt with. But there are also things we shouldn’t worry about even when the underlying point is something we should. Yes, climate change is something worth worrying about. Even to read the research and conclude that it’s all colei* is to be taking the original worry seriously, to investigate it. But what about things that are trivial even in the context of that overall problem we should at least consider?

So it is with this complaint about the Champions League final – actually, Champions plus Europa.

As English fans get set to cross Europe, anger rises at football’s carbon bootprint
Planes going to the finals in Spain and Azerbaijan will emit 35,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide – climate activists want change

Those activists will complain about everything of course. But, you know:

The problem was summed up by Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green party. “With Arsenal and Chelsea each being given just 6,000 seats, and sitting just a few miles apart in the capital, surely we are missing an open goal by not hosting the final in London. Packing thousands of fans on to flights is damaging to the environment. The 45,000 fans travelling to both finals will emit around 35,490 tonnes of carbon dioxide. It’s time Uefa did better.”

Well, no, not really. Extra emissions from the matches aren’t that high. If there are chartered aircraft specifically making these trips then yes, we can tot up the total emissions from each flight. But near all of that travel will be on already scheduled planes. Which will be taking off and landing whatever the state of the football matches. Thus the additional emissions can and only will be those of the extra fuel to carry the passenger, not those of the aircraft. Yes, this is calculable but it’s pretty trivial by comparison with that 35,000 tonnes.

But we can and should go further. Let’s allocate all these emissions to the UK – we shouldn’t, only half should be. UK total emissions are around 500 million tonnes. No, from memory, so don’t shout that it’s 30% below this or 40% above. Shuddup. 35,000 tonnes is 0.007% of this. Which, for a bit of panem et circenses is pretty cheap. In fact, that’s 36 minutes of UK emissions. From a match that lasts rather more than twice as long as that. Wouldn’t want to have to defend the idea but as a piece of propaganda you could say that’s reducing emissions……

The important part here being that back of the envelope calculation. 35,000 tonnes of CO2? An irrelevance when thinking about countries or continents. Save energy for dealing with something important. Say, promoting iron fertilisation of the oceans which could such a billion tonnes a year of CO2 out of the atmosphere. You’ve noted how J Bartley is concentrating upon the important things, yes?


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Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole

You’re making the mistake of thinking that such claims are about science, when they’re actually just virtue-signalling.