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Offsetting the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games
The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) set sustainability goals for the Games to conserve natural environments and manage, mitigate and offset negative impacts during the planning and beyond the execution of the global event.
This meant that the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games were the first carbon neutral Games in history, and we’re proud of the important role we played as Official Carbon Offset Supplier.
We first helped VANOC understand their footprint, and assess the unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions from all their operations leading up to and hosting the event. This enabled them to create reduction strategies for alternatives to reduce emissions by close to 20 per cent prior to the games.
The final footprint of the 2010 Winter Games was an estimated 118,000 tonnes of direct carbon emissions, that is, emissions directly attributable to the Games including venue construction, facility heating, and athlete travel. Additionally, this event produced an estimated 150,000 tonnes of ‘indirect’ emissions – emissions that were largely attributable to flights and accommodation for spectators, media, corporate sponsors and their partners.
To offset the direct and indirect emissions associated with the Games, we developed the 2010 Legacy Portfolio, an offset portfolio of projects comprised of BC-based clean technology projects and international Gold Standard projects that reflected the local and global nature of the 2010 Winter Games. All projects were high-quality offsets consistent with the standards applied by BC provincial greenhouse gas regulations, and designed to meet the highest international standard for carbon accounting.
During the 2010 Winter Games, we engaged sponsors and spectators with the message that everyone has a role to play in making the Games carbon neutral. We also leveraged this opportunity to raise awareness about the climate impact of large events. In fact, you may have seen our Nielsenheimer Brothers around Vancouver spreading the word that “without winter, there could be no winter games.”
If you want to learn more about how the 2010 Winter Games were more than Green Games and how we worked with VANOC to set the bar for environmental performance of future large-scale sporting and public events, download the report here.
Through the Carbon Partners Program, we engaged over 50 per cent of the VANOC family of sponsors and partners involved in the 2010 Winter Games to understand and reduce their emissions while offsetting almost 75 per cent of their total emissions. These partners played an important role in making the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games the most sustainable in history and the first ever Carbon Neutral Games.
We created and supported a number of lasting initiatives including:
Online Travel and Accommodation Calculator Spectators planning their Olympic trip used our 2010 Travel and Accommodations Calculator to quantify the carbon footprint incurred by attending events.
Offsetters 2010 pin
With the “pin-sanity” of the Games, we developed a commemorative pin received with the purchase of 1 tonne of offsets from the 2010 Legacy Portfolio.
To emphasize the impacts of climate change, we developed a campaign focused on Bobwheeling, as opposed to bobsledding. Bobwheeling is an ironic demonstration sport proposed for a future with warmer winters.
The overall media campaign generated around 30 million media impressions and it was covered by press from around the world, including Great Britain, South Korea, Japan and Belarus.
This was created to help individuals understand what offsets are and how they tie back to the Games—played at compete and non-compete venues.
Full page ads promoting our Carbon Partner Program
Offsetters-wrapped Harbour Air seaplane which was seen taking off during the American broadcast of the Men’s Gold Medal hockey game
Project Blue Sky was an online widget that we supported which encouraged active living and sustainable transportation choices in the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Games. Learn more about the project here www.projectbluesky.ca.
Offsetters has set the bar for future Olympic Games and other large-scale global events, demonstrating for organizing committees, that it is possible to be carbon neutral.
- Carbon Neutral Mission Accomplished
- All 118,000 tonnes of direct emissions offset and a portion of the indirect emissions including athlete travel and the torch relay were offset
- Inspired sponsor and spectator involvement
- Over 40 Games sponsors voluntarily offset their carbon emissions with 75 per cent of their total emissions offset
- Massive media and public awareness
- Offsetters garnered close to 30 million impressions from June 3rd, 2009 through to the end of March 2010.
- Created a Green Legacy
- Offsetters and VANOC have helped to promote a shift to a low carbon future and set a carbon neutral precedent for future Olympic Games.
- Offsetters’ CEO Dr. James Tansey has also been named a UNEP special advisor to the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.
Did you know?
- VANOC used approximately 500 fewer diesel generators than previous Games. This reduced diesel power GHG emissions by 90% 1
- VANOC estimated that green initiatives reduced the carbon footprint of the 2010 Winter Games by 57,000 tonnes of carbon over business-as-usual 2
- By volume, 4,835 tonnes of CO2 would fill BC Place 3
- The average spectator was personally responsible for 0.3 tonnes of carbon emissions as part of their experience at the 2010 Winter Games
- Offsetters was the first Official Supplier of Carbon Offsets in the history of the Olympic movement
VANOC was the first Olympic Organizing Committee to track and report its carbon emissions from the day of winning the bid until the closing of the Games. This means reporting, reducing and offsetting carbon over a duration of seven years from planning to holding the world event – not just the 27-day time period of the games themselves.
In total, we worked with VANOC to reduce 268,000 tonnes of direct and indirect carbon emissions generated as a result of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. To put that into context, reducing 268,000 tonnes would be the equivalent of taking 49,084 passenger vehicles off the road or eliminating the electricity needed to power 37,171 homes for a year.
One tonne of carbon emission is the equivalent weight of:4
- 5 four-man bobsleds
- 25 skeleton sleds
- 52 curling rocks
- 6,135 hockey pucks
One tonne of GHG emissions (tCO2e) equals:
- 15 km of the torch relay—including emissions from torch fuel, support vehicles, community celebrations and each torchbearer’s heavy breathing
- 83,333 trips of 5 km in length on Vancouver’s transit system, one of the cleanest in the world
- 10 days of running one snow-maker powered by a diesel generator1
- Approximately 11 tanks of gasoline for your car, or 9 tanks of diesel fuel (40L)
1 VANOC 2007-08 Sustainability Report, pg 45
3 Volume of BC Place from their website
4 Official Olympics sports equipment weights taken from IOC website at www.olympic.org/en/content/sports