Technology & Science

Global warming could melt winter sport industry: report

Global warming could cripple winter sports and winter tourism in Canada, according to a report published Monday by the David Suzuki Foundation.

Global warming could cripple winter sports and winter tourism in Canada, according to a report published Monday by the David Suzuki Foundation.

"If heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions are not significantly cut, global warming stands to wipe out more than half of Canada's ski season later this century with few exceptions," said the study.

Entitled On Thin Ice, it was released Monday in Vancouver on the opening day of the 8th annual world conference on sport and the environment.

"By 2050, if we fail to take immediate action on climate change, a whole range of winter activities across Canada, from Olympic sports like skiing and snowboarding to iconic Canadian pastimes such as ice fishing and pond hockey, will be jeopardized," says report author and the foundation's climate-change specialist, Ian Bruce.

The report says shorter winters would be a blow to the winter tourism industry in Canada, which they say provides an estimated $5 billion each year to Canada's economy. In Quebec alone, winter tourism accounts for about $1.5 billion annually, said Karel Mayrand, director of the David Suzuki Foundation’s office in Quebec, in a statement.

The foundation called on Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to track, measure and offset all major emissions during the games, including emissions from spectator travel. Later Monday, VANOC announced at the same conference that they have set a target to neutralize up to 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from Games.

The committee said to meet that target they are in "advanced sponsorship negotiations with carbon offset management companies" to create a carbon offset portfolio that would invest in green technology projects.

These projects would include those that capture and store carbon from the atmosphere, such as forestry and land use projects, as well as those that improve energy efficiency or produce renewable energy. Preference, the committee said, would be given to British Columbia-based projects "that enable and enhance local community sustainability plans."

The committee said it came up with the 300,000 tonnes figure based on the David Suzuki foundation's 2007 assessment that the Games would produce an estimated 110,000 tonnes of direct carbon emissions and another 220,000 tonnes of indirect emissions from air travel by spectators and other participants.