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Louisville business hopes a 'carbon neutral' soccer tournament will further the climate conversation

Sport Impact Group announced Tuesday that this year's Women's Cup in Louisville will carbon-neutral, but what does that mean?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There are things we can do every day to reduce our carbon footprint. You might use a reusable water bottle, drive a hybrid car or recycle.

But for something like a worldwide soccer tournament, there are large emissions that are challenging to offset.

"Sustainability is still a developing sector. So, as we know better, we can do better," Jan Winter said, one of the founders of Sport Impact Group (SIG).

The small company announced Tuesday that it is partnering with Racing Louisville F.C. to make the 2022 Women's Cup a "carbon neutral" event.

SIG will calculate the total carbon footprint of the six-team, international exhibition tournament, and then finance green energy projects to make up for the associated pollution.

They will go to what's called a carbon offset marketplace and look for projects to finance. These could be tree planting efforts, gas capture from landfills and more.

For example, TerraPass, is an online carbon offset marketplace that charges you $19 per month to certify that you offset 25,000 lbs. of CO2 every year.

Winter says they are working with a certified firm to ensure that the projects they commit to are done.

"What you're purchasing is not just the actual work or trees or waterways or however that's connected. You're also purchasing the guarantee that the work is done, and that it's real, and that it's permanent," she said.

Winter says they haven't done the carbon footprint calculation yet, but they believe the total cost for the carbon offset will be less than $100,000.

There are some environmental efforts being done on-site and in connection with the tournament. The five visiting teams took commercial flights this year, instead of chartering private jets like the 2021 tournament.

Lynn Family Stadium also has reusable water bottle fill stations and solar phone charging stations.

Winter says they're proud to be part of this work, but also know there is more to be done.

"Offsets are something that's considered 'O.K.' for now," she said. "I don't know yet what we're going to be able to do to reduce use rather than offset use. So it's a series of conversations."

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