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Wash Post declares AC-free goal of ‘greenest Olympics ever’ in Paris takes ‘a farcical turn’ as ‘portable air-conditioning units will be everywhere’ per athletes’ demands



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Chico Harlan is The Washington Post's global climate correspondent

Wash Post Excerpts: 

PARIS — For all the steps Paris organizers have taken to put on the greenest Olympics ever, their boldest measure — the one they’ve touted again and again — pertains to the dorms in the Athletes’ Village. The rooms don’t have air-conditioning. Because of other cooling measures, organizers have assured, the athletes won’t need it.

But in a farcical turn, when the Games start next month, an Olympic Village designed to showcase sustainability will be more of an energy hog than organizers had hoped.

That’s because portable air-conditioning units will be everywhere. Wheeled in. Shipped in. Ordered by visiting countries that want their athletes to sleep well and perform at the highest level — even if it means a larger carbon footprint. Some of those athletes are accustomed to temperatures cooler than what the dorms might have provided and raised concerns to their national Olympic committees. “It’s a high-performance environment,” said Strath Gordon, the chief of public affairs for the Olympic committee of Australia, one of the countries opting for the ACs. ... The Washington Post sent inquiries to 20 of the largest competing nations. Among the eight that responded, all — including the United States — said they were planning to use portable ACs in some or all of their athletes’ rooms. Those countries — plus Greece, Denmark and Australia, which also responded to The Post — accounted for more than 3,000 athletes at the previous Olympics, in Tokyo, more than a quarter of the total. ... Many other countries plan to obtain the ACs in France.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/2024/06/06/paris-olympics-no-air-conditioning-village-2024/

Paris wanted an AC-free Olympics. Visiting nations had other plans. – Some delegations feel uneasy about relying on a more sustainable French geothermal cooling system.

Chico Harlan is The Washington Post’s global climate correspondent

Wash Post Excerpts: 

PARIS — For all the steps Paris organizers have taken to put on the greenest Olympics ever, their boldest measure — the one they’ve touted again and again — pertains to the dorms in the Athletes’ Village. The rooms don’t have air-conditioning. Because of other cooling measures, organizers have assured, the athletes won’t need it.

But in a farcical turn, when the Games start next month, an Olympic Village designed to showcase sustainability will be more of an energy hog than organizers had hoped.

That’s because portable air-conditioning units will be everywhere. Wheeled in. Shipped in. Ordered by visiting countries that want their athletes to sleep well and perform at the highest level — even if it means a larger carbon footprint.

Worried about what potentially could be the world’s hottest year on record, wealthier nations have effectively undercut Paris’s marquee sustainability measure, signaling that, yes, they care about environmental aims — but not if it risks the comfort of their athletes. Some of those athletes are accustomed to temperatures cooler than what the dorms might have provided and raised concerns to their national Olympic committees.

“It’s a high-performance environment,” said Strath Gordon, the chief of public affairs for the Olympic committee of Australia, one of the countries opting for the ACs.

To capture the scale of planned portable air-conditioning use at the games, The Washington Post sent inquiries to 20 of the largest competing nations. Among the eight that responded, all — including the United States — said they were planning to use portable ACs in some or all of their athletes’ rooms. Others with air-conditioning plans include Great Britain, Canada, Italy, and — to a limited degree — Germany, which says ACs will be used for participants in just a handful of sports. If Japan, which did not respond to The Post’s inquiry, goes through with its own air-conditioning plans — announced at a news conference last December — then every Group of Seven country aside from the host will be using the units.

Those countries — plus Greece, Denmark and Australia, which also responded to The Post — accounted for more than 3,000 athletes at the previous Olympics, in Tokyo, more than a quarter of the total.

The wild card is China, which did not respond to the inquiry. It has one of the largest delegations — and it has an exceptionally fast growth rate of domestic AC usage.

“We will bring them. And we will take them back to Greece,” said Alexandra Palli, president of the Greek Olympic committee for environmental sustainability, who said her country was responding to the wishes of its athletes. “They need support. Because what they do is very difficult anyway.”

Many other countries plan to obtain the ACs in France.

The bid to forgo air-conditioning was just a tiny part of the overall Paris plan to reduce the footprint of a massive event. But it is highly symbolic, as it has forced participating countries to consider whether they want to participate in a sustainability experiment — abandoning conventional, energy-intensive privileges in the name of green goals. The collective decision of some of the largest countries also raises questions about equality: Portable air-conditioning represents a cost that some delegations from poorer countries might not be able to afford, meaning athletes in the same Olympic Village might be sleeping at different temperatures.

For a world that needs to cut its carbon footprint, people don’t need to live at 65 degrees Fahrenheit in summertime, Grenon said, with ACs on full blast.

“We thought about the lifetime of the buildings” in conceiving the model, she said.

And as for the decisions of the visiting countries?

“It’s a pity,” she said.

Full Washington Post article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/2024/06/06/paris-olympics-no-air-conditioning-village-2024/

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‘Trust science’, Paris mayor boasts as city declares ‘there will be no air conditioning in Olympic athletes’ rooms ‘to cut the carbon footprint’ of summer Olympics

 

Reuters – March 14, 2024: There will be no air conditioning in the athletes’ rooms at Paris 2024, which has pledged to host the “greenest ever” Games. … Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo told those nations planning on installing air conditioning at the athletes’ village to “trust the science” instead… With climate scientists warning that global warming has produced more extreme weather patterns in much of the world, organisers of Paris 2024 have said they want to halve the carbon footprint compared with the Rio 2016 and London 2012 Summer Games. “I think we have to trust science on two counts. The first is what scientists are telling us about the fact that we are on the brink of a precipice. Everyone, including the athletes, must be aware of this,” said Hidalgo. “And secondly, we have to trust the scientists when they help us to construct buildings in a sober way that allows us to make do without air conditioning.” ..

Yet, the Olympic Committees from Australia, Brazil, Canada and Norway are among those who believe it will not be enough.
“Our clear wish is that there should be air-conditioning in all rooms,” the Norwegian Committee told Reuters, with Brazil saying “the heat forecast” made it “necessary to invest in renting air-conditioning units for the entire delegation”.

Associated Press in 2023: The Paris Olympics is going underground to find a way to keep athletes cool at the 2024 Games without air conditioners…The decision is part of the organizing committee’s goal to cut the carbon footprint of the Paris Games by half and stage the most sustainable Olympics to date by installing a special technology to use natural sources to keep everyone cool even during a potential heat wave. Compared to a conventional project, the carbon impact will be reduced by 45% for the Athletes Village during the construction phase and over the entire Olympic cycle, she said. …

The geothermal energy system will ensure that the temperature in the athlete apartments in the Seine-Saint-Denis suburb does not rise above 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit) at night, including during a potential a heat wave, said Laurent Michaud, the director of the Olympic and Paralympic Villages. … “Despite outdoor temperatures reaching 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit), we had temperatures at 28 degrees (82 degrees Fahrenheit) in most of these rooms,” Michaud told The Associated Press, detailing the results of a heatwave simulation. … To keep the coolness inside, the athletes will have to follow some basic rules, he added, including making sure the window blinds are shut during the day. … Although some Olympic hopefuls have already expressed concern about the lack of air conditioning, Monnet said athletes should adapt and help contribute to fight against climate change. “We need athletes to set an example when they use the buildings,” Monnet said. “We can build the most virtuous village we want, it is also the use that will be made of it that will weigh on our carbon footprint.” …

Allow only AC in very limited circumstances: “It will be on a case-by-case basis, and for health and safety of the athletes,” Michaud said, adding that ventilators vaporizing water droplets could be installed instead of traditional air conditioning units.

Uncool Paris: Radical French Eco-Minister Bans Outside Heating In Cafes & Bars

 

 

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