How Much Energy Will the 2014 World Cup Consume?

Along with three billion other viewers around the world, I plan to tune in for the month-long World Cup to see whether the 22-year old Neymar can withstand the colossal pressure that has been put upon his shoulders to deliver a win for team Brazil. 

Every time I turn on my television set, I'm using World Cup-related energy. And that's just the start. Flying in teams, trainers, equipment, World Cup personnel and the estimated 500,000-plus fans will use enormous volumes of jet fuel. 

Add to that powering the stadiums on game days, moving millions of spectators around host-country Brazil, and transmitting the event to billions of viewers worldwide, and you end up with millions of tons of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere. 

So while the 2014 World Cup is going to be bigger than ever -- it's shaping up to be the most watched, most lucrative and expensive tournament in soccer history -- it's also going to be one of the biggest energy-consuming, greenhouse gas-spewing World Cups in history. 

Think about this as the music blasts through the stadium and the fans cheer and scream and the players race up and down the field chasing the ball: The 2014 World Cup tournament will burn through enough energy before it's over to fuel almost every one of the 260 million cars and trucks in the United States for an entire day, or the equivalent of what 560,000 cars use in a year. 

Estimating the total energy required to mount such a massive operation with any precision is a fool's errand, but let's take a look at some numbers to get a sense of scale. 

  Image source: Oilprice.com 

FIFA did its own fascinating study of the carbon footprint that will be created by setting up and running its broadcast television operation. It found that the biggest contributor – 60% – is international flights for staff members. The other 40% comes from all the trucks needed to transport cables, cameras and furniture, and the energy required to operate all of the electronics.

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