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International Olympic Committee to Be Climate Positive in 3 Years and Games from 2030

As a result of the growing climate crisis, the IOC or International Olympic Committee has decided to align with the climate change goals set by the Paris Agreement to reduce its indirect and direct greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 45% in 9 years. This decision was taken by the IOC Executive Board over a remote meeting held on the 27th of January.

In addition to reducing its emissions, it also aims to offset over 100% of its remaining carbon emissions. This is to be done via the Olympic Forest project which is part of the larger Great Green Wall project, an UN-sponsored climate change initiative that combats desertification in the Sahel region.

These offsets are calculated to make the IOC climate positive by 2024. The IOC aims to utilise its influence when encouraging others within the sports world to battle climate change.

IOC President Thomas Bach stated “sport depends on a healthy planet… as the leader of the Olympic Movement, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to protect our climate. This ambitious target puts the IOC in line with the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and helps to advance action on climate change.”

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Chair of the IOC Sustainability and Legacy Commission, said: “The IOC’s ambitious commitment to reduce its carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement is a clear testament to how seriously the IOC addresses the climate crisis and offers a powerful example of how sport can contribute to the global efforts”. 

The IOCS already operates a carbon-neutral policy having offset its 2017-20 greenhouse gas emissions via its carbon partnership with Dow, which is a worldwide Olympic partner.

From 2016 to 2019, the IOC had an average carbon footprint of 53,000 tonnes each year. To achieve its 45% target in emissions reduction, the IOC has created an intermediate reduction target at 30%, which is to be achieved in less than 4 years. To this end, the IOC Sustainability and Legacy Commission has been tasked with creating action plans that achieve both targets. This task is actively supported by the IOC administration.

This announcement comes on the heels of an earlier one from the IOC which stated that the Olympic Games were to be made climate positive. This means that from 2030, every Organising Committee for the Olympic Games will be contractually obligated to:

  • Implement lasting zero-carbon solutions for all Olympic Games and more
  • Minimise and compensate its indirect and direct emissions

The upcoming Olympic Games of Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 have both committed to being carbon neutral.

  • Tokyo 2020 aims to offset its indirect and direct emissions. It will use the Games visibility to highlight sustainable solutions like hydrogen-powered cars, podiums made from public-donated plastic waste, and Olympic medals made from recycled mobile phones.
  • The competition venues at the Beijing 2020 Games aim to be powered by 100% renewable energy. Low carbon emissions and natural CO2 refrigeration systems are to be used at the majority of the Beijing 2020 ice venues. This is the first time this low climate impact technology will be used in China and at the Olympic Winter Games.
  • LA 2028 has chosen a more radical reuse approach. This means that it will leverage the variety of iconic sports facilities available in Los Angeles and will not need to build any new permanent venues. LA29 has also committed to integrating meaningful sustainability measures over the entirety of its plan as it aims to create a new standard for large-scale live events.
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