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Brazil: São Paulo goes from grey to green

Buses powered by clean fuels, more bike paths, an express train and recycling of plastic bottles are some of the initiatives to combat pollution before, during and after the 2014 World Cup.
By Lucia Pinto for Infosurhoy.com – 29/03/2013
Former professional soccer players Ronaldo (right) and Bebeto (purple tie) tested the Expresso da Copa (World Cup Express) train with government officials in São Paulo in November 2012. The train will connect downtown São Paulo with the Itaquerão stadium during the 2014 World Cup. (Courtesy of Marcelo Camargo/ABr)

Former professional soccer players Ronaldo (right) and Bebeto (purple tie) tested the Expresso da Copa (World Cup Express) train with government officials in São Paulo in November 2012. The train will connect downtown São Paulo with the Itaquerão stadium during the 2014 World Cup. (Courtesy of Marcelo Camargo/ABr)

SÃO PAULO, Brazil – The 2014 World Cup already has led to at least one victory in São Paulo: initiatives to make the city greener.

Each year, pollution results in the deaths of 4,000 people throughout the city of São Paulo, according to a 2012 study by the University of São Paulo’s (USP) School of Medicine. And 90% of the atmospheric pollution comes from the transportation sector, the city’s government stated.

In preparing the São Paulo state capital to host the World Cup, state and city officials have focused on encouraging the use of public transportation.

The Ecofrota program is among the initiatives to improve the public transportation system and pollution levels. Launched by the city in 2011, Ecofrota involves the replacement of buses that run on fossil fuels with new ones that emit lower levels of pollution.

The aim is to replace, by 2018, the city’s fleet of 15,000 buses with buses that run on ethanol, biodiesel, sugarcane diesel, electricity or hydrogen.

As of December 2012, 1,870 buses already were circulating throughout the city using clean fuels. This contributed to a 9.5% reduction in the emission of pollutants from January to October 2012, according to city officials.

“The authorities have demonstrated a concern for health in São Paulo,” said pathologist Paulo Saldiva, who coordinated the USP study. “But there is room for improvement. The city needs greater investment, for example, in bus lanes. Studies show air pollution can be reduced by 40% because buses can increase their speed in the lanes.”

Eliane Marques, a 24-year-old secretary who lives near the Guarapriranga dam, in the extreme south of São Paulo city, has to catch four buses each day to commute to work downtown. Given that none of the buses use alternative fuels, she suffers from the pollution.

“My throat and eyes burn – I hope that the green fleet is expanded to all regions of the city,” Marques said.

Other highlights include how fans will travel to the World Cup stadium, known as the Itaquerão.

During the competition, fans will be able to ride the Expresso da Copa (World Cup Express), a train that will travel from downtown to the stadium in 20 minutes. And, by 2014, the 12.2 kilometer bike path that runs from the neighborhood of Tatuapé to the neighborhood of Itaquera, both on the east side of city, will be renovated.
In March, the Paulista Football Federation (FPF) launched the Sustainable Soccer campaign in the interior of São Paulo state, where two plastic bottles can be exchanged for a ticket to a soccer match. (Courtesy of Leonardo Britos/FPF)

In March, the Paulista Football Federation (FPF) launched the Sustainable Soccer campaign in the interior of São Paulo state, where two plastic bottles can be exchanged for a ticket to a soccer match. (Courtesy of Leonardo Britos/FPF)

The World Cup projects also are being carried out in ways that will not harm the environment.

For each tree that is removed, at least three will be planted as close as possible to the one taken down, according to SPCopa, the city’s special ministry responsible for issues related to the World Cup.
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