The entire world is eagerly anticipating the 2010 Winter Olympics, which start on February 12th in Vancouver, British Columbia. This area of Canada is one of the most naturally beautiful in the entire world, but efforts by the Vancouver Olympic Committee to keep it that way seem to be falling short of the mark.
Way back in August of 2009, it was reported that “right from the planning and administration stages, the Vancouver Olympic Committee was on top of their green game, receiving a gold rating within the LEED Green Building Rating System in 2007 for their head office high rise building” (Greenr.ca).
But as unseasonably warm weather has required the Committee to truck in thousands of pounds of artificially produced snow for the olympic events, people are beginning to question whether the commitment to environmentally-friendly games was genuine.
Although the David Suzuki Foundation initially endorsed the Vancouver Olympic Committee for pushing public and alternative transportation during the games and agreeing to offset a portion of the event’s carbon emissions, the Foundation’s most recent report featured a pointed rebuke.
“Climate change is a defining issue of our time, and the winter Olympics are an opportunity to show leadership by reaching and inspiring billions of fans and spectators with solutions to global warming,” Foundation Spokesman Paul Lingl said in the report. “The Vancouver Olympics will leave the region with few long-term improvements in sustainable transportation. To date the 2010 Olympic organisers haven’t made the most of their opportunities to tell the story of their climate initiatives to Canadians and the world.”
It was also found that although the Vancouver Olympic Committee has pledged to offset 118,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, that figure amounts to less than half of Games-related emissions (Greenr.ca).
Several olympic atheletes have joined the chorus of environmental activists demanding the the Olympic Committe increase their efforts at reducing the Games’ negative impact, and educating the public about climate change.
“As a winter Olympian I see global warming firsthand: melting glaciers, changing snow patterns and the closing of lower-elevation hills,” says Canadian Alpine Ski Team member, Kelly VanderBeek. “Winter sports are threatened by global warming and Canadian Olympic athletes are stepping forward and calling for action.”
Ms. VanderBeek is a member of Play It Cool, a joint initiative of the Climate Project of Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation. This program involves athletes that are taking action in their own lives to reduce their carbon footprint, and together with more than 70 Canadian athletes they wrote to the Vancouver Olympic organizers in 2009 and called on them to address the Games’ climate impact.
The public is encourage to find out the full story behind the greening of the Games by reading the David Suzuki Foundation’s Climate Scorecard for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - kevindooley
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