Trucking, flying snow won’t impact Olympic green goals: VANOC
VANCOUVER — The helicopters and trucks ferrying precious snow to Vancouver’s winter-starved Cypress Mountain venue will have only a negligible impact on projected carbon emissions, say organizers aiming to host the greenest Games ever.
The thrum of chopper blades and the rumble of dump trucks might run counter to the notion of environmental sustainability, but Vancouver Games officials insisted Wednesday they won’t be thrown off target by man-made efforts to restore winter to parts of the West Coast.
“If we used helicopters every day from this point until the end of February for eight hours a day, it would increase our carbon footprint by less than one per cent,” said Linda Coady, vice-president of sustainability for the Olympic organizing committee known as VANOC.
“Similarly, with the trucking (of) snow, if we trucked in 100 tonnes, it would only increase our carbon footprint by about three or 4,000 tonnes.”
Cypress Mountain, situated on Vancouver’s North Shore, has been hit by heavy rain and warm temperatures, robbing it of the snow necessary for the snowboarding and freestyle skiing events to which it is to play host.
But it won’t alter VANOC’s prediction that the 2010 Games will produce just 118,000 tonnes of carbon over the life of the seven-year project, compared with 17-day emis- sions levels of 248,000 tonnes in Salt Lake City in 2002 and about 160,000 in Turin, Italy, in 2006.
What is produced, organizers say they will offset with carbon credits.
Organizers were on hand Wednesday to release the latest in a series of status reports on VANOC’s sustainability efforts, this one spanning the 12 months beginning Aug. 1, 2008.
“We know that a global event on the scale of the Olympic and Paralympic Games provides a platform to raise awareness about a variety of specific causes and concerns,” the report said.
“We also understand there will always be Games critics, and we believe that everyone has the right to peacefully express their beliefs.”
Coady also warned against reading too much into the decision last week by the David Suzuki Foundation to award the Games a symbolic bronze medal for sustainability, rather than a gold or a silver medal.
The Suzuki assessment was relatively positive, applauding VANOC’s sustainable venues, emissions targets and transparency, but complained about a lack of a sustainable transportation legacy and less-than-stellar public communications.
“We’re pretty happy with that,” Coady said of the bronze medal. “They made it pretty clear they would never award a gold or a silver medal to a sporting event yet, so we made it onto the podium.”
When they get underway Friday, the Games are expected to attract the largest group of protests the committee has seen to date.
Activists take issue over everything from the role aboriginal people are playing in the Games and what they believe is the negative impact the Olympics are having on Vancouver’s most marginalized residents. Many insist that the Olympics and sustainability are mutually exclusive concepts.
The committee, however, believes it has put together one of the most inclusive and balanced events in the history of the Games.
“If you have intention, if you have clarity, if you have good partnerships, if you have creative ideas, if you’re reflecting people’s values, you can manage (the Games) in a more sustainable way,” Coady said.
“That is a message of hope and transformation, because if you can do it for an Olympic Games, which is only a 17-day event, then it’s possible to do it more broadly.”
In the year the report covers, organizers also provided money for shelter beds, supported programs that gave job training for Games-specific roles and hired inner-city groups to run programs like their lost and found.
They also spent over $1 million buying from 15 inner-city businesses, though overall, their spending on local business has gone down from years past.
For the first time since they began reporting, organizers also said that in 2008-2009 they did not need to ban any factories from producing their merchandise because they didn’t comply with the Games’ code of conduct.