IOC, Dow step up climate action drive

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has stepped up its commitment to addressing climate change by joining forces with Worldwide Olympic Partner, US chemical company Dow, to launch a new venture that will incentivise and support International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) for committing to the cause.

The new initiative announced today (Tuesday) is part of the IOC’s commitment to support and lead the Olympic Movement, including the IFs and the NOCs, in integrating sustainability into their operations. It is aimed at helping the NOCs and IFs understand, measure and reduce their carbon footprint.

The initiative will reward through carbon offsets those IFs and NOCs that are deemed to be implementing “real and tangible action” to address and reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the scope of their sports organisations and respective events.

The offsets will help balance the residual carbon emissions of IFs and NOCs that have signed up to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, launched by the IOC and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Other requirements include presenting detailed data on annual carbon footprint, as well as carbon reduction plans.

“We consider climate change to be one of the biggest emergencies humanity has ever faced, and the IOC wants to ensure that the Olympic Movement addresses it in an impactful way,” Michelle Lemaitre, IOC head of sustainability, said. “Thanks to this initiative, and thanks to our official carbon partner, Dow, we will now be able to support the ‘best in class’ when it comes to climate action. We hope that this will encourage more climate action across the Olympic Movement.”

The portfolio of offsets, covering a total of 250,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents, will include a diverse set of climate solutions, from conserving ecosystems and avoiding deforestation to energy efficiency and renewable energy. The projects will be implemented across multiple jurisdictions, including the Americas, Africa and Asia, and will comply with standards approved by the International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance (ICROA). The first award recipients will be announced at October’s IF Forum in Lausanne.

Dow previously implemented carbon mitigation programmes for the 2014 winter Olympic Games in Sochi and Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 summer Olympic Games. It became the IOC’s official carbon partner in October 2017.

The IOC said the global carbon mitigation programme has been designed to go far beyond just balancing the IOC’s operational emissions as it will allow the Committee to deliver additional climate benefits and a positive legacy from a portfolio of projects, enabled by Dow’s material science.

Sustainability is one of the three pillars of Agenda 2020, the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement. In December, the IOC took the leadership role in the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, which it developed jointly with the UNFCCC.

The framework calls on the sports world – including federations, leagues and clubs – to jointly develop a climate action agenda for sport, adhering to five principles: promoting greater environmental responsibility, reducing overall climate impact, educating for climate action, promoting sustainable and responsible consumption, and advocating for climate action through communication.

Fifty sports organisations have joined the framework so far, including 10 IFs and the Organising Committees for three of the upcoming Olympic Games – Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024. In June 2018, the IOC entered into a partnership with the C40 Cities initiative in an effort to work towards more sustainable editions of future Olympic Games.