Everyone Must Be Committed
At this time there may not actually be a definitive answer to this question. While VANOC has made a commitment to the first ever carbon-neutral Games a significant commitment is also required from sponsors, the media, volunteers, athletes and participants to actually achieve this goal. And while there will undoubtedly be a variety of differing opinions and reports on the results of the effort after the completion of the Games that does not mean that it is not worth the effort.
Managing Carbon Emissions
A Suzuki Foundation report that was partially funded by VANOC and released in January 2008 outlined how VANOC could manage the carbon emissions associated with the Games. The report first recommended reducing the emissions from Games related activities and then using ‘high-quality’ offsets to compensate for those emissions that remain. While VANOC and the City of Vancouver have made significant efforts to build and organize sustainably there is no doubt that the Games and Games related activities have already and will still create significant carbon emissions.
Carbon Partner Program
On November 3rd, with 100 days left before the Opening Ceremonies, VANOC announced 25 partners that will invest in British Columbia clean energy technology projects through the ‘2010 Carbon Partner Program’. So far I think this commitment is a drop in the bucket, but it is a start. The investment program is being managed by Vancouver based ‘Offsetters’ who are the official supplier of carbon offsets for the Games. As part of their commitment to Vancouver 2010 ‘Offsetters’ will prevent a minimum of 110,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere. This leaves an estimated (depending on the source of the estimate) 190,000 tonnes of emissions left for VANOC, its partners and the public to offset.
Project Blue Sky
Partially as a challenge to VANOC to stick to its commitment and partially to inspire individuals who care about climate change, Canada’s Olympic and Paraympic athletes have, with the design expertise of the Master’s of Digital Media, launched Project Blue Sky. The goal of Project Blue Sky is to inspire individuals to contribute one billion kilometers of carbon-reducing activities from their daily lives by the end of the Paralympic Closing Ceremonies. The goal is also to ‘race’ VANOC to achieving their respective climate goals. The project allows participants to become engaged with athletes in changing their transportation behavior and measuring their own progress.
An Ambitious Project by VANOC
To date Project Blue Sky has only collected 18,369 kilometres of carbon cutting contributions and has not received very much media attention despite being driven by notable Canadian athletes. At the same time I could not find an update on how many tonnes of emissions have been offset so far by the 2010 Carbon Partner Program nor was ‘Offsetters’ ranked very high as a company in the Vendor Survey completed by the David Suzuki Foundation. However, VANOC’s “ambitious effort to leave Canada and the world an environmental legacy of carbon neutral Games in 2010, including offsetting air travel for Olympians and Paralympians” is still a worthy one.