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EURO 2024 teams can slash their emissions by 60% if they cut out flying, NGO says

Tournament mascot 'Albaert' during the presentation of the 'EURO 2024' football tournament trophy at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany, April 24, 2024.
Tournament mascot 'Albaert' during the presentation of the 'EURO 2024' football tournament trophy at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany, April 24, 2024. Copyright AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
Copyright AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
By Savannah Avery
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Only three of the 24 teams taking part have answered T&E's calls to opt out of flying during the month-long football extravaganza.


Germany is aiming to make the EURO 2024 football tournament the greenest ever but its ambitions could be higher if national teams just played ball and cut out flying, according to Transport & Environment (T&E). 

National teams could slash their emissions by 60 per cent if they opt out of flying and choose to travel by train or coach, an analysis by the umbrella organisation representing NGOs promoting sustainable travel found.

Unfortunately, no team besides Germany, Portugal, and Switzerland has yet to make such a pledge. 

"UEFA and the hosts Germany have put a lot of effort into cutting transport emissions around the tournament, making it the greenest championships ever. This shows what can be done," Erin Vera, T&E's Travel Smart Campaigner, said in a statement.

"Disappointingly the national teams are so far failing to lead by example. If teams chose to avoid taking the plane for journeys that could reasonably be taken by train or coach, they can drastically slash their emissions," she added.

Favourite France could slash emissions by 97 per cent

The month-long tournament will see 24 teams and some of the world's top players including England's captain Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappé, the French captain, battle it out across 10 German cities.

Both players, however, could pollute seven to nine times more through their transport emissions alone during the tournament than what the average person emits over a whole month if their teams - which are among the favourites to lift the trophy - travel by plane, according to T&E.

Mbappé and the France team will have their basecamp at Paderborn, a city in western Germany located a six-hour train ride from Paris. The team's group stage matches will take place in Düsseldorf, Leipzig and Dortmund, respectively located less than two hours, four hours and one hour and fifteen minutes away from Paderborn, according to Google Maps.

Calculations by T&E found that if France switched completely from air to train or coach travel then they could reduce their CO2 emissions by 97 per cent - or about 40 tonnes - in the group stage alone.

For the knockout stage, the round of 16 is to take place in Leipzig, the quarters and final in Berlin - a four-hour train ride from Paderborn - and the semis in Dortmund. Should France reach the final, it could reduce its emissions by 96 per cent - amounting to 72 tonnes of CO2 - if they were to switch from air to rail or road.

Only three teams have made pledges

The UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) and host Germany have made efforts to promote train travel for teams and fans, acknowledging that the biggest chunk of the tournament's emissions, 80 per cent, comes from transport.

Group stage matches have been geographically grouped close to each other to reduce travel time and related emissions.

Every match ticket holder will, meanwhile, be entitled to a 36-hour travel card to use on public transport in and around the ten host cities. The Deutsche Bahn is also offering fans reduced prices for travel around the country.

T&E and other climate groups across Europe urged national teams last month to commit to travelling more sustainably.

Germany has pledged to not fly for the group stage, reducing its potential emissions by 98 per cent, but did not comment on its knockout round plans.

Switzerland agreed to travel by bus to their Stuttgart basecamp, some four hours away from their training ground.

Portugal will also shift to the road for two out three matches during the group phase and “expressed their intention to start reporting travel emissions during this tournament, in order to be able to set reduction targets for next tournaments such as the World Cup”, according to T&E.

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