Athletes call for greater climate action and transparency

Acknowledging the future threat to skisport worldwide due to climate change, athletes send letter demanding climate action from the international ski federation.

The world of competitive Snowsports is feeling the impact of climate change right now. With competitions being cancelled due to extreme weather events or lack of snow, pre-season training slopes becoming less available and increased injury rates due to poor quality, or absence of, natural snow (1) at competition sites.  A new study shows that all but one of the previous 21 host cities, Sapporo, Japan, will be too warm and dry to host a safe, fair Winter Games by 2080 if we continue on the current emissions path. (1)

This loss of snowpack affects far more than winter sports activities. Severe and unmitigated climate change could see mountain glacier ice and snow that existed in 2015 reduced by up to 80% by 2100. Putting at risk the 1.9 billion people that rely on snow or glacier melt water for their water supply (2).

FIS (Féderation Internationale de Ski) is the international ski federation and is thus a globally active organization. In addition to Alpine skiing, the FIS also control sports such as freeride, snowboarding, telemark, all Nordic sports and several others. FIS has come a long way since the presidential position was held by a climate denier. However, many feel its action on climate are too slow and too limited to match the scale of the issue, and that the actions it has taken are both overly reliant on offsets and lack the required transparency to be a leader on climate action. Questions have been raised around Mr. Eliasch’s joint role as both FIS President and co-chair of Cool Earth (the organization FIS has partnered with) as to the transparency and ease of public access to information of how its offsets are calculated.

List of demands

Rising Austrian skiing star, FIS athlete, and Protect Our Winters Ambassador Julian Schütter has penned an open letter demanding action from FIS including:

  • FIS representatives must commit to reaching net-zero for all of FIS operations and events by 2035 or prior.
  • FIS has to create a sustainability strategy of how to achieve the 50% emissions reduction by 2030, as committed to through the UN Sports for Climate Action framework and present it to the public before the start of 2024 season.
  • FIS has to install a sustainability department that ensures that sustainability becomes a key aspect of all governance processes and operations, which must be controlled and certified by an independent organization.
  • Full transparency is needed to back up FIS‘ role as a much needed pioneer.

 

“Skiing is so much fun for me that in 40 years I still want to be waving in deep powder snow,” shares Julian Schütter.

“Unfortunately, however, climate change stands in my way. With this campaign, I am using my circle of influence, my influence as a ski racer. In doing so, I hope to inspire others to use the influence on their environment, no matter where or how big their circle is.”

You can read the whole letter and see the list of signatories here:

https://protectourwinters.eu/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/open-letter-to-FIS-230209.pdf

 

References:

  1. Daniel Scott, Natalie L. B. Knowles, Siyao Ma, Michelle Rutty & Robert Steiger (2023) Climate change and the future of the Olympic Winter Games: athlete and coach perspectives, Current Issues in Tourism, 26:3, 480-495, DOI: 10.1080/13683500.2021.2023480
  2. Bethan Davies, Senior Lecturer in Glaciology, Royal Holloway University of London. https://theconversation.com/the-worlds-mountain-water-towers-are-melting-putting-1-9-billion-people-at-risk-128501
  3. https://greensportsblog.com/intl-ski-fed-prez-denies-climate-change/

 

About Protect Our Winters

POW Europe was formed in 2020 to leverage the power of our network of nine national POW chapters in Europe: Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Italy and the UK… and counting. Our national chapters are strongly rooted in their communities and have their ear to the ground on national and local issues. POW Europe transforms those local strengths into cohesive and impactful Europe-wide climate action.

At the same time, we amplify national campaigns, provide centralized, expert support to the network and a single, coordinated point of contact for European partners. Through our network of 9 national chapters, we reach an expanding community of over 100’000 people with our digital channels – add to that more than 3,6 million by our 130+ athlete ambassadors – as well as potentially those 60+ million Europeans who consider themselves hikers, skiers, alpinists or the like, comprising the European Outdoor Community.

Visit the POW Europe website.

About International Ski and Snowboard Federation

The International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) is the governing body for international skiing and snowboarding, founded in 1924 during the first Olympic Games in Chamonix, France.

Recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), FIS manages the Olympic disciplines of Alpine Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Ski Jumping, Nordic Combined, Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding, including setting the international competition rules.

Through its 135 member nations, more than 7000 FIS ski and snowboard competitions are staged annually. Specific initiatives are undertaken by FIS to promote snow activities as a healthy leisure recreation, notably for the young.

Visit the FIS website.

Photo: Hans-Peter Steiner

SUSTON
jonathan.eidse@norragency.com


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