Olympics earn a bronze for climate action says Suzuki Foundation

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics have made the podium with a bronze medal for their efforts to reduce the event’s climate impact, according to a climate scorecard released by the David Suzuki Foundation. Achievements of the 2010 Olympics include building energy efficient venues, using clean-energy sources, relying on public transit during the Games and offsetting part of the Games’ emissions.

“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,” says Paul Lingl of the David Suzuki Foundation. “Despite some missed opportunities, the positive steps taken by the 2010 Olympics demonstrate that climate solutions are doable, affordable and can have a lasting legacy.”

Along with successes, the Foundation’s climate scorecard highlights several areas where the Vancouver Olympics fell short. “The Vancouver Olympics will leave the region with few long-term improvements in sustainable transportation,” says Mr. Lingl. “As well, to date the 2010 Olympic organizers haven’t made the most of their opportunities to tell the story of their climate initiatives to Canadians and the world.”

Canadian winter athletes agree it is important to send a strong message about the need for climate action. “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.”

“The winter Olympics depend on snow and ice and they need to do their part to protect winter,” says former Olympic speed skater Ingrid Liepa. “It’s encouraging to see that the Vancouver Olympics are making a contribution, and I hope that future Olympic Games will raise the bar even higher for the sake of our winter sports culture – and our planet.”

Ms. VanderBeek and Ms. Liepa are members of Play It Cool, a joint initiative of the Climate Project of Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation. These athletes 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 fate of winter sports and the potential to host winter Olympics in the future depend on choices we make today to address climate change,” says David Suzuki. “I’m inspired by the efforts of Canadian Olympic athletes, and I encourage the federal government and all Canadians to follow their lead and be part of the solution to climate change.”

photo © Ukrphoto | Dreamstime.com

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