The third edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) isn’t just the country’s biggest cricketing spectacle. It may also have the largest carbon footprint among the subcontinent’s major sporting events.
A carbon footprint is the total set of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions caused by an organisation, event or product. Five nights in a five-star hotel is equivalent to the carbon footprint of an average Indian for an entire year.
IPL 3 comprises eight teams playing 60 matches across 12 venues nationwide. An average contingent for an outstation match consists approximately of 70 persons, and a good number are offered plush five-star rooms.
With its many matches — at different venues with substantial electricity requirements — entailing the movement of hundreds of players, support staff, broadcast crew and fans across the country, the sheer logistical requirement of IPL is staggering. As is the tournament’s carbon output.
The IPL, however, is cognizant of its ecological footprint. After over a year of negotiations, IPL has decided to enter a long-term partnership with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to conduct what may be the most comprehensive carbon audit in India.
It has commissioned a detailed study to calculate the carbon emissions of the tournament, with the intention of ensuring that the fourth edition of the games next year can be made climate-neutral.
“It is the first of its kind in South Asia, and puts IPL in the league of events such as the Olympics. We will first look at measuring the emissions and then find ways for offsetting and reducing this,” UNEP’s Satinder Bindra said.
The carbon footprint analysis, which is being undertaken by a firm called no2co2, is looking across the board: from the wider factors to the minutest of details.
“We are looking into the smallest possible aspects of IPL to ensure that we have precise, detailed information. This exact information is required if the carbon footprint has to be reduced, which can then be followed by offsetting the remainder,” no2co2’s Manager (Special Projects & Outreach) Savita Vijayakumar said.
The firm’s carbon footprint analysis methodology takes into account the consumption of cooking fuel, vehicular fuel, generator fuel as well as electricity and water consumption. It also factors in rail, road and air travel, including the difference between economy and premium class travel.
Other components such as luxury hotel accommodation, food and beverage consumption, waste generation, plastic, paper and other consumables are also part of the calculations.
Moreover, the research is spread across the activities of various stakeholders in the IPL. While the primary organising body and its sub-contractors are part of one group, state sports associations, the eight IPL franchisees and the spectators are the other stakeholders, respectively.
In determining the greenhouse gas emissions, match-day research includes measuring all the activities through exhaustive questionnaires and interviewing of relevant function heads present at the venues. This is followed by post-event data gathering, in particular for waste-generation calculations.
Additionally, spectator carbon footprint, through travel and accommodation activities, are being determined through random-sample surveys across price-categories and socio-economic classifications at stadia.
“There are local components that need to be included in the calculations. For example, emission factors are different for buffalo milk that is used in Mumbai, compared with cow’s milk which is predominant in Bangalore,” Vijayakumar explained.
The carbon audit is expected to not only provide IPL with a clear insight into its emission process, but should allow the tournament to make certain changes to reduce its ecological footprint.
“On a Boeing 737 aircraft, in terms of emissions, one business class seat is equivalent to two-and-a-half economy seats. So, it would make sense if more people associated with the IPL travelled in economy,” Vijayakumar added.
At a local level, the IPL franchisees are themselves attempting at employing measures for environmental impact reduction in their home cities. For instance, Vijay Mallya-owned Royal Challengers Bangalore have introduced special buses for ferrying fans into the stadium on match days and a car-pooling service that can be accessed through their website.
“We have also started waste segregation at the Chinnaswamy stadium. The non-food waste is recycled and the food waste is send for composting,” said Richa Bajpai of NextGenPMS, which is working with the Bangalore team on its green initiative.
With the results of IPL’s carbon audit slated to be released next week, the tournament organisers will now have to explore options for offsetting their emissions. While there are several alternatives that can be looked into, experts feel that investments in renewable energy could be a part of the carbon footprint compensation mechanism.
If that happens, by next season, a carbon-neutral IPL may have a hand in generating green power, apart from the cursory excitement and great cricket.