In a ground-breaking action, the International Ski Federation announced today that it has taken steps to become the first Climate Positive International Sports Federation by 2022 through its FIS Rainforest Initiative.
FIS Rainforest Initiative will offset FIS carbon footprint many times over through conservation projects of rainforest, initially in the Peruvian Ashaninka communities in the Amazonas.
“It was an utmost priority for me when I was elected FIS President to make an immediate and meaningful impact on the sustainability of our sport,” said FIS President Johan Eliasch. “This is not only a duty we have as good world citizens, but today it has become a prerequisite of being an attractive sport particularly for the younger generations.”
FIS carried out an internal carbon footprint audit of its competitions staged during a full season. Based on data received from various Organisers, FIS was then able to estimate the overall Carbon Footprint across its thousands of events and to take action to mitigate the impact of these events on the climate.
The FIS Rainforest Initiative is aimed at preventing future deforestation equivalent to many times the estimated carbon emissions that FIS activities generate each year.
Rainforest is essential to all life. Its central role in the oxygen and water cycles are critical for food and water security and preventing extreme weather events. It is also the world’s most important terrestrial store of carbon. Without it, global temperatures are estimated to be at least six degrees higher and many regions would be uninhabitable. Keeping this carbon sink intact is a top priority and FIS is committed to provide funding for the FIS Rainforest Initiative.
Through this initiative, FIS has gone one step further than buying carbon credits from historic initiatives. Instead, FIS is proactively contributing to reducing deforestation with an all encompassing sustainable avoided deforestation project that fully funds partnerships with the Ashaninka nation in Peru, and is investing not only in preventing deforestation, but also in healthcare, schools, women’s enterprise, cacao production and community assets.
The methodology to measure the Carbon Footprint of FIS saw the events put into six distinct categories based on their size and scope. Taken into consideration were variables such as number of spectators, energy and fuel consumption, travel of accredited individuals, in addition to size and scope of the course build and infrastructure, to name a few.
The Carbon Footprint measurement was carried out by industry leader Planet Mark, while Cool Earth provided the partnership to support the protection of the rainforest.
Today’s announcement is just the first step in Carbon Positive journey of FIS. Each year, an annual survey will be carried out with FIS Event Organisers to obtain the most accurate Carbon Footprint data for each season.
To complement the survey, Organisers will be provided with a toolkit to give practical tips to reduce their Carbon Footprint in any given area. FIS will then identify suitable projects to protect the world’s rainforests and their communities. 100% of the funding provided by the FIS Rainforest Initiative will be deployed locally to benefit the indigenous communities living in the rainforest.
Ultimately, a reward program will be put in place to recognize the FIS Organisers that make the biggest strides in reducing their Carbon Footprint from one season to the next.
“FIS took the first critical step to making our Organisation climate positive,” said Eliasch. “But in the future the responsibility will be shared between FIS and the Organisers. Our ultimate goal is to equip our Stakeholders with the tools to minimize their Carbon Footprint.”
Decarbonising is not easy, but FIS is committed to minimising its carbon footprint in every possible manner and has already started with initiatives to reduce travel by optimising competition calendars and arranging training opportunities in closer proximity. The recently announced Zermatt/Cervinia speed season opening race comes with commitments to open training opportunities which will reduce travel to the Southern Hemisphere.
Additionally, sustainability is a focal point of the newly adopted statutes which states:
- FIS considers the protection and preservation of the environment of great importance.
- FIS shall use all reasonable efforts to conduct its activities in an environmentally friendly manner, to the extent reasonably possible, minimise its carbon footprint and aim to have a carbon neutral footprint through carbon offset mechanisms.
“As an outdoor winter sport, FIS has a duty to be role model in the area of sustainability and to take the lead in protecting our environment,” Eliasch said. “We hope by taking action now, others will follow in our footsteps. There is no time to lose, the time to take action is now.”
Additionally, as part of signing with the Sports for Climate Action Framework, FIS has pledged to halve its “direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions” by 2030. Its previous pledge was to cut them by 45 percent by the same deadline, in keeping with the 2015 Paris Agreement.