I love soccer. In fact, I’ve played competitively for most of my life and even came close to playing in the early days of Major League Soccer – damn knee injury.
Devoted as I am to the sport, when the 2014 World Cup in Brazil rolled around, I couldn’t help but think which country would win if, instead of a soccer tournament, there was a global competition to kick carbon out of our energy supply.
Using 2009-2013 data from the World Bank, I replicated the FIFA World Cup schedule and used carbon-dioxide emissions (metric tons per capita) as the measure of victory. The two lowest-emitting leaders in Group A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H were seeded first and second. Winners in the group stage advanced to knockout rounds of 16, 8, 4 and finally to the World Cup of Carbon. The results were fascinating.
It is overwhelmingly evident from my exercise that less-developed countries have the lowest carbon emissions. No real shocker there, but for governments and investors this presents a huge opportunity to focus on new technologies that can allow these countries to grow and modernize using effective low-carbon strategies to generate sustainable energy. This suggests big potential for capital gains may come from countries such as Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Honduras, Ghana, Colombia, Nigeria, Algeria and, yes, Brazil, the host of the 2014 World Cup, which began June 12.
Walking through my carbon tournament, Costa Rica fell to Colombia in an absolute heartbreaker. Ivory Coast beat Cameroon, Honduras topped Ghana, Brazil fell to Colombia and Nigeria bested Algeria in the second round of competition. In the quarterfinals, Ivory Coast barely advanced by Ghana with a score of 0.3 to 0.4 (lowest score wins), while Nigeria thrashed a Cinderella Colombian team 0.5 to 1.6.