Begin typing your search above and press return to search.


Paris Olympics has vowed to be the first 'climate positive' Games - Beijing 2022 shows why

The effects of climate change on the the 2022 Winter Olympics shows why it is essential that the 2024 Paris Olympics reach the goal of being 'climate positive'.

Paris Olympics has vowed to be the first climate positive Games - Beijing 2022 shows why

The ski jump platform at the 2022 Winter Olympics had a backdrop of old steel mills. (Getty)


Divya Joshi

Updated: 17 Feb 2022 12:12 PM GMT

On the closing day of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe stated that climate change is extremely likely to disrupt sports events and sporting calendars.

The Winter Olympics currently being held in Beijing are a prime example of how climate change is becoming a burning issue in sports mega-events.

The 2022 Winter Games are the first to use hundred percent artificial snow for outdoor activities, with more than a hundred snow generators and 300 snow cannons operating non-stop to cover the ski slopes. According to reports and researchers, the use of artificial snow generated by cannons and generators is not only "energy and water intensive, but also creates a dangerous and unpredictable surface."

The two co-host cities, Beijing and Zhangjiakou, which are located in naturally dry climates, will consume an estimated 49 million gallons of chemically-treated water frozen by snow machines, according to estimates.

While Beijing's reliance on fake snow is an anomaly, it will likely become the norm for most Olympic host cities in the not so distant future. Rain and shallow snow are expected to increase at all Winter Olympic venues in coming decades, making it harder to hold winter sports in safe conditions.

At the Summer Olympics last year, Tokyo temperatures averaged 32.2 degrees Celsius throughout the 2020 Olympics, making the Tokyo Games one of the warmest and the most humid. Athlete health and performance were at risk because of the dangerous mix of heat and humidity.

Instances include Danill Medvedev, the Russian professional tennis player struggling to play in the hot and humid climate and taking two timeouts and the Spanish Tennis player Paula Badosa, who was forced to retire from the women's singles quarter finals after suffering from a heat stroke so severe that she needed the assistance of a wheelchair to move out of the court.

The Games' need to adapt to weather conditions demonstrates why it is critical to take steps toward becoming more sustainable and climate positive.

Measures taken to tackle the climate challenge

The swimming event of the triathlon at the 2024 Olympics will take place in the river Seine itself. Currently, the Seine remains very polluted mainly due to rain water and one of the chief projects of the Paris Olympics is to clean the whole of the Seine to facilitate the swimming event. In order to do that, a lot of small social organizations have been included to help out in revamping plans of the drainage system of the historic city.

The manner in which climate change can impact athletes, competitions and the sporting calendars is very concerning. Raising awareness is one of the primary steps towards attaining a balance between sport and the environment.

The goal of the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics is to advance the sustainability agenda by being the first ever climate positive Olympics and Paralympics.

Now what does 'climate positive' mean and what is the IOC doing to help with the issue of climate change?

Climate positive activity goes above and beyond reaching net-zero carbon emissions to produce benefit to the environment by eliminating excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The approach is based on goals such as lowering greenhouse gas emissions along with promoting initiatives that benefit the environment.

The 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Villages will be models of environmental sustainability, with 100 percent bio-based materials, 100 percent green energy during the games, 100 percent sustainable and certified food sources and 100 percent of Olympic members and spectators utilising clean transport. With 95 percent of the locations pre-existing or temporary, the 2024 Paris Olympics and Paralympics have set a target carbon footprint (the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of an individual's or community's activities) of around 1.5 million tonnes of CO2, which are non-avoidable emissions.

The Organising Committee for the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games along with the International Olympic Committee has also signed up to the United Nations 'Race to Zero' Campaign. This was revealed at the UNFCCC's (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) 26th Conference of Parties (COP 26) held in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

Furthermore, they have given a commitment to operate in accordance with the 2015 Paris Agreement's targets and goals. In addition, Paris 2024 along with the International Olympic Committee is collaborating with the United Nations as part of the Sports for Climate Action Framework, that includes five key commitments which include lowering the climate impact of sporting events, educating people about implications of climate change, promoting more responsible environmental strategies, and promoting climate action through communication campaigns.

The Framework has two major goals:

⦁ establishing a clear path for the international sports community to address climate change,

⦁ utilising sports as a uniting instrument to increase climate awareness and responsibility among citizens of the world.

Sports organisations agree that they must play an active role in reaching the Paris Agreement's objective of climate neutrality by 2050, their climate initiatives being an important contributor to the UN's larger Sustainable Development Goals.

As part of the Sports for Climate Action agreement, and three years after the framework's introduction, signatories are expected to commit to reaching specific climate targets such as halving emissions by 2030 and striving for net-zero emissions by 2040.

Our very own Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra along with other athletes has contributed to 'We can still fix this: Athlete Messages for COP26', a powerful video released by World Athletics.

"Today, our global community has a common goal ahead of us: to save our world from the ill effects of climate change," Chopra said. "For this, we all need to come together and work as one team."

The influence that athletes have over the masses is known to all and them being a part of noble initiatives like these matters the most. It is extremely inspiring to see an athlete speak up for climate change and address an issue which is so crucial for sport to thrive and survive.

Next Story