The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that it will cut its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, as part of its commitment to tackling climate change.
The announcement was made by IOC President Thomas Bach during the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), currently taking place in Greece. It comes ahead of the UN Climate Summit (COP26) due to be held at the end of October in Glasgow, Great Britain.
With this decision, the IOC increases its level of ambition from a previous commitment that set a 45 per cent reduction over the same time period, in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
“The climate crisis is arguably the biggest challenge humanity is facing,” said President Bach. “It is affecting all areas of our lives, including sport of course, as an important part of society. By further reducing our carbon emissions, we strengthen our contribution to the realisation of the Paris Agreement, follow the latest science on climate change, and contribute better to this global effort. We urge all other sports organisations to follow suit.”
In order to achieve the 50 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, the IOC has set an intermediate reduction target of 30 per cent, to be achieved by 2024. Its action plan to deliver on this commitment will now be updated with increased efforts to reduce emissions in the areas of travel, energy use and procurement.
Aligning with the latest science
The IOC’s announcement comes following the publication of the Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. Published in August 2021, the report found that human-induced climate change is intensifying at an unprecedented pace.
Sport is increasingly affected, both in winter and summer. Unreliable snow and temperatures impact winter sports, while increasing summer heat threatens the health of athletes, event organisers and fans.
In 2018, working with UN Climate Change, the IOC helped develop the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework – which aims to drive climate action across the sports world – and has taken a leadership role in its implementation. More than 270 sports organisations from around the world have signed up to it so far, including the IOC itself.
Based on the latest data from the IPCC report, all signatories to the Framework will be required to reduce their emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, in order to help limit global temperature rise to 1.5˚C.
Already carbon neutral, the IOC aims to become climate positive by 2024.
This will be achieved by:
- reducing the IOC’s direct and indirect emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, across the three scopes defined by the GHG Protocol, in line with the Paris Agreement;
- compensating more than 100 per cent of its remaining emissions, mainly through the Olympic Forest project; and
- using its influence to encourage the broader Olympic Movement, as well as its supply chain and other stakeholders, to take action against climate change, and make the sports world more sustainable.
Climate-positive Olympic Games
In March 2020, the IOC took the decision to make the Olympic Games climate positive. From 2030 onwards, each Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (OCOG) will be contractually obliged to:
- minimise and compensate its direct and indirect carbon emissions; and
- implement lasting zero-carbon solutions for the Olympic Games and beyond.
All upcoming Olympic Games have committed to carbon neutrality, with Paris 2024 aiming to become the first climate-positive Games even before the 2030 deadline.
- All competition venues at the Beijing 2022 Games aim to use 100 per cent renewable energy. Natural and low carbon emission CO2 refrigeration systems will be used at most of the Beijing 2022 ice venues – the first time this low climate impact technology will be used in China and at the Olympic Winter Games.
- With 95 per cent of venues pre-existing or temporary, among other measures to avoid and reduce carbon emissions, the Paris 2024 carbon footprint is expected to be half the carbon footprint of previous Olympic Summer Games. Paris 2024 will also compensate more than 100 per cent of its residual emissions and use its influence to develop long-term carbon compensation projects, becoming the world’s first Olympic and Paralympic Games with a positive contribution to the climate.
- LA28 has adopted a radical reuse approach, which means it will leverage the best of Los Angeles’ iconic sports facilities and not require a single new permanent venue to be built. LA28 has committed to incorporating meaningful sustainability measures throughout its plans as it aims to set a new standard for large-scale live events.
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