29th April 2023
Greenpeace accuses the International Ski Federation of ‘greenwashing’ while FIS says tackling climate change is top of its agenda. NEW
The two organisations have written and published open letters and we reproduce them below.
Greenpeace International calls on FIS President Eliasch and the Council of the International Ski & Snowboard Federation to put an end to CO₂ compensation.
In order to offset its greenhouse gas emissions – for example from long flights – the international ski federation is currently focusing on compensation projects and even describes itself as climate-positive.
From Greenpeace’s point of view, this is pure greenwashing.
The environmental organization is therefore demanding that FIS President Eliasch stop this sale of indulgences before the next season and take real climate protection measures.
Greenpeace is thus standing side by side with over 500 professional winter sports enthusiasts – including Ski World Cup record holder Mikaela Shiffrin or Aleksander Aamodt Kilde – who support the climate protection initiative of ÖSV ski racer Julian Schütter.
“Instead of making winter sports fit for the future, the FIS under President Eliasch is fueling its downfall.
“CO₂ compensation payments are nothing but brazen greenwashing,” says Adam Pawloff, program director at Greenpeace in Austria.
A look at the alpine ski racing calendar shows that the FIS under Eliasch knowingly ignores the signs of the times: Not just once, but even twice a season, the athletes and their teams, including their equipment, will fly across the Atlantic to various races.
“It is not enough that Eliasch sells indulgences with his compensation projects. He throws another log into the fire and thereby destroys the very basis of the FIS’s existence: White Winters”, says Pawloff.
Global CO₂ emissions are skyrocketing at record speed, fueling the climate crisis.
The Alpine region has been hit harder than average by global warming: our glaciers are shrinking rapidly.
Last year, the glacier receded by an average of 28.7 meters – that’s a whole 11 meters more than in the previous year.
Several races from the past Ski World Cup season had to be canceled due to a lack of snow.
“Instead of relying on non-transparent CO₂ compensation projects and sending the athletes around the world twice despite the escalating climate crisis, it is time to pull the emergency brake.
“Eliasch and the FIS must adapt the race calendar and ensure that the races are scheduled in such a way that travel and associated emissions are reduced to a minimum,” demands Pawloff.
Athletes who have more rest periods and training time also benefit from this.
Not only Greenpeace, but also numerous professional athletes sharply criticize the ignorance of the FIS under President Eliasch.
More than 500 professional winter athletes – including Ski World Cup record holder Mikaela Shiffrin or Aleksander Aamodt Kilde – support the climate initiative of ÖSV ski racer Julian Schütter to the international ski association:
In a letter they demand that emissions be halved by 2030 in accordance with science as well as full transparency in climate protection measures.
You can find Greenpeace’s open letter to FIS President Eliasch and the council members here: https://act.gp/3GXIxng
The open letter from the athletes can be found here:
International Ski & Snowboard Federation
Open response from FIS President Johan Eliasch to Greenpeace letter, dated 24th April 2023:
Dear Mr Christensen,
Thank you for your letter.
Let me respond, first, with something we can agree on.
The climate crisis is unfolding rapidly and causing devastation to millions.
Its impact on the environment that skiing and snowboarding depend on is a consequence particularly close to our hearts.
Climate change presents an existential threat to our sports, and threatens far, far worse impacts on hundreds of millions of people around the world.
That is why FIS put together a plan to be climate positive.
Cuts to emissions must start at home.
FIS will continue to take strenuous action to reduce its footprint.
But responsible organisations must seek to make change beyond reducing their own emissions.
As they do, they should recognise a simple fact: the effects of the crisis are already being felt in communities whose environments are devastated by extreme weather.
Indigenous people and local communities who live in rainforest are in a unique position.
Though they often suffer the effects of drought, typhoons, habitat desiccation and species loss, they also have an unrivalled record of conserving the forest they live in.
This is why – in addition to reducing its own footprint – FIS is committed to being climate positive by directly supporting indigenous communities in Peru.
Cool Earth is the NGO we have chosen to partner with because they help to put local people in control of their forest and stick by their promises to indigenous communities.
They are an organisation that has never treated the beliefs and the land of indigenous people with contempt.
We are proud that FIS is able to describe itself as climate positive.
We do not simply buy and retire carbon credits; instead we are following the UN’s guidance to go further and faster in taking action.
Your letter also suggests that our work on sustainability begins and ends with supporting rainforest communities.
This is not the case.
As signatories to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, we have set ourselves the goal of halving our carbon footprint by 2030, an aim which will force us to keep striving to make our activities more sustainable.
The 2023 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Slovenia was a great example of what can be achieved, with energy self-sufficient buildings and spectators incentivized to walk or cycle.
We are determined that all our events must aim for such high standards, and soon.
That is why we are creating the toolkit for our member federations, and the reward programme to recognize FIS Organisers that make the biggest strides in reducing their carbon footprint.
Climate protection is a cause I have been personally passionate about for thirty years.
Progress will be made through practical actions that are rooted in climate justice and research on what works.
Let me repeat: I share your anxieties about the effect that climate change is having – and will have – on us all.
I am determined that we at FIS will do our part to help avert climate disaster.
Equally, Greenpeace should do its part in engaging constructively in an educated and fact-based manner with those seeking to affect genuine change and respecting the rights of indigenous people.
Please be assured that we remain fully committed to our mission to make snow sports the most sustainable sport on earth.