‘One Planet’ Olympic Games 2012


The Olympic Games 2012 won their bid partially on the concept of ‘One Planet Olympics’, meaning an Olympics that worked towards lowering its ecological footprint to a level where the earth’s bio-capacity is not diminished. The ecological footprint is a metric that allows us to calculate human pressure on the planet. Tolerance levels are determined by how much stress an ecological system is under due to resource extraction, pollution (including carbon emissions) and other human activities. A key awareness is that critical thresholds can provoke dramatic change and even collapse of ecosystems on various scales. The ‘One Planet’ concept is the challenge of living within the ecological carrying capacity of the earth, essential to avoid risks for civilization that result from destabilized ecosystems.

Unfortunately, the London Olympics Games 2012 are not the ‘One Planet Olympics’. Rather they an abuse of the concept of the concept of living within the Earth’s ecological boundaries. The UK government is spending £11billion+ on the Olympic Games but this same government cannot afford to fund a single independent environmental government watchdog. In 2010 the Sustainable Development Commission, the UK government’s only independent environmental body costing only £3million a year, was abolished. Grandiose green claims and pretensions to aspiring to ‘One Planet’ living are not supported by environmental infrastructure or government policy. Meanwhile the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales is having to dramatically cut staff. At the Olympics the WWF and BioRegional are helping the UK Government whitewash its image by using the ‘One Planet’ standard for an entirely unsustainable Olympics.


The desecration of ‘One Planet’ living concept by the London Olympic Games 2012 is a tragedy for environmental movements. The Olympics becomes an active source of misinformation in the colonialisation of an important environmental concept. The same BP that caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster, i.e. the worst environmental disaster in US history, just two years ago is now allowed to take center stage at the Olympics as ‘sustainability partner’. There is nothing remotely sustainable about BP (who dropped their solar energy project last year). Thus the very concept of ‘sustainability’ becomes degraded and we are exposed to exactly how meaningless these ideas become when used by cynically by corporations to project a future-friendly image with no regard for actual sustainable policy or practices.

The Olympic Games function as an elaborate smokescreen to camouflage the fact that industrial systems (largely controlled by the Olympic sponsors) are quietly destroying the stability of various Earth systems. The spectacle of the Olympic Games 2012 effectively conceals and perpetuates symbolic, structural and real violence against the natural world and those of us who depend on the earth for life.

The film below is the Olympics Greenwash Gold Award ceremony.


More of my blogging on the Olympic Games can be found here.

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