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Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational achieves carbon neutrality

“The Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational is the first LPGA event to achieve carbon neutrality” – the LPGA Tour caused a stir with this announcement in early July. The reason: CO₂ neutrality is now an issue at major golf events – but the golf scene is only at the beginning of a process at almost all tournaments, where the first step is to get a picture of the CO₂ footprint. By the way, this does not only apply to golf. The subject was not discussed at all during the European Football Championship that had just been held.

Data acquisition as the first task

Measure, measure, measure is therefore the first task for organizers, which at least some tournaments now face. From the Open Championship 2022 there will be for the first time a calculation of CO2 emissions, the same applies to the Scottish Open, which ran a week before.

Organizers of the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Arizona and the women’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational are well ahead. A complete CO₂ report was already prepared for both major events in 2021. In the case of the women’s tournament, 100 percent of the CO₂ emissions were offset via credits from the Natural Capital Exchange, which operates Gold Standard CO₂ emissions offsets in the USA.

Transportation as the biggest CO₂ driver

765 MtCO2e had to be offset for the 2021 tournament, and the figures for the 2022 event have not yet been determined. The term MtCO2e stands for megatons of CO₂ equivalent. One megaton is equivalent to one million tons. At this point, we are therefore talking about CO₂ emissions of 765 million tons. However, compared to the record of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which is considered the most spectator-rich tournament in professional golf on the US PGA Tour, this record is still modest. Waste Management’s Sustainability Report for the 2021 tournament shows a total of 4508.4 MtCO2e. And this despite the fact that the event was already completely powered by renewable energy.

So how was the calculation done, and where are the focal points of CO2 emissions?

At 368 MtCO2e, nearly 50 percent of the bill for the LPGA tournament falls on transportation: “Transportation for the event included employees, spectators, players, caddies, coaches, and vendors for planes, rental cars, and trucks,” notes Chris Chandler, Executive Director, Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational & Sports Solutions at Dow. fixed. At the event itself, which was still based almost entirely on the use of fossil fuels, energy was the biggest driver.

A look at the detailed presentation of the emissions of the Waste Management Open 2021 shows: Mobility is the biggest problem. The transport of fans – which in 2021 was only 20,000 due to the limited number of spectators because of Covid – accounts for 3501.2 MtCO2e under Scope 3, and the mobility of players for 51.2 MtCO2e. The Waste Management Open, which is certified as a sustainable event under ISO20121, ended up offsetting all emissions except for fan transportation at 945 MtCO2e. In 2022, more than 700,000 spectators attended the event. The sustainability report for 2022 is therefore something to look forward to.

Much potential for improvement

But the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational report also shows where the opportunities lie in creating a more sustainable golf tournament. More than 200 on-site vendors came from the region, and 80 percent of the signage was recycled from the previous year. 78 percent of waste was recycled or reused, ten percent more than in 2019. Nearly 2000 kilograms of food were given to regional charity campaigns. In addition, there were major fundraisers for regional projects and a broad-based program for more than 3,000 local children to be exposed to science.

Reporting from the Waste Management Open and the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational lays out the weaknesses of golf tournaments on the one hand, but also shows where and with what measures one can move in a positive direction. The mobility problem is not specific to golf, but affects skiing events, concerts or events of any kind.

Golf scene needs data analysis first

The challenge for the organizers of major events, regardless of the tour, is now to first gain an overview of how a tournament is positioned in terms of energy, CO₂ emissions, regional impact and much more. Only those who have the data can perform an analysis at the end and then make improvements. It will therefore be interesting to see the figures for The Open Championship 2022, which is the biggest golf event in Europe apart from the Ryder Cup. Data evaluation is in full swing here.

So there is no way around the slogan “data, data, data” in the future. By the way, this applies not only to golf, but also to any other sport.