Olympic Greenwash Protest, Vancouver

Report, Video, and Media Coverage

100 people gathered outside Canada Place in downtown Vancouver on March 30 to protest the World Sport and Environment Conference.

Co-hosted by the International Olympic Committee and the Vancouver Organizing Committee (Vanoc), the conference is used to promote the illusion that the Olympics are all about social and environmental sustainability.

Despite heavy rain, the protesters effectively communicated their message that the conference, and the IOC's claims, are no more than a 'greenwash' of widespread ecological destruction.

Speakers (including Betty Krawczyk, members of Gatewaysucks.org, Olympic Resistance Network) and banners highlighted the role of Olympic sponsors in environmental degradation, including Coca Cola, the Royal Bank of Canada, Epcor, Dow Chemical, Petro-Canada, and many others.

Street theatre was also used, including a small stage with a hooded executioner carrying a chainsaw. As well, a brief video was shown, projected onto construction wall around the entrance to Canada Place, focusing on the tar sands project in northern Alberta.

There is a video of the rally:

IOC hands out enviro awards
But opponents call it 'green-wash'

By Bob Mackin, SUN MEDIA, Tue, March 31, 2009

VANCOUVER - The Beijing Olympic organizing committee was among five
continental winners of the first International Olympic Committee sport
and environment awards, presented Monday at the 8th World Conference
on Sport and the Environment in Vancouver.

"This is the right city, the right moment, the right site to have the
first IOC award for sport and environment,” said IOC sport and
environment commission chairman Pal Schmitt of Hungary.

Schmitt said 38 individuals and organizations were nominated.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau and Beijing 2008
committee won the award for Asia. The other winners were: Oregon Track
Club (Americas), Green Africa Foundation (Africa), German Olympic
committee (Europe) and the New Zealand 2010 Rowing World Championships
organization (Oceania).

Outside the Vancouver Convention Centre, 100 people joined an Olympics
Resistance Network rally against “green-washing.”

“It's a marketing campaign for these companies that have realized that
most of the world knows they're destroying the Earth,” said ORN
speaker Harjap Grewal. “What they now need to do is pretend to be
green, what the Olympics provides them, it provides them with the best
opportunity to ‘show the world’ they care about the environment."

Grewal said Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics organizers, the IOC and
sponsors are leaving a legacy of destruction. He pointed to the
overland expansion of the Sea-to-Sky Highway through the Eagleridge
Bluffs forest and swamp and clearcut logging to make way for Nordic
sports venues in the Callaghan Valley.

Earlier Monday, VANOC CEO John Furlong said talks are underway with a
sponsor to compile a $5 million portfolio of carbon credits to offset
the estimated 300,000 tons of Games-related air pollution.

Dr. David Suzuki, a CBC TV presenter and retired geneticist, issued a
report claiming Canadian winter sport is facing catastrophe by 2050 if
global warming isn’t stopped. Retired climate scientist Dr. Timothy
Ball, however, said a global cooling trend since 2000 could ruin food
crops and lead to heating fuel shortages across Canada sooner than

“Governments are preparing for warming -- and it's cooling,” Ball told
24 hours. “We're going to be blindsided.”

The three-day United Nations and IOC-presented convention ends
Tuesday. The convention was downsized by the recession. Sponsorship
was open exclusively to all VANOC and IOC partners, but only seven
responded. The federal and British Columbia governments and provincial
Crown corporation BC Hydro were three of them.

VANOC reveals plans for carbon offsets; sets target


The Canadian Press/Globe and Mail

March 31, 2009
VANCOUVER -- The 2010 Olympics are turning to the private sector to help offset carbon emissions during the Winter Games.

Organizers hope to sign a sponsorship deal with a company that would, among other things, invest in green technologies and programs to counterbalance the amount of carbon the Games will create.

"We're going to put 300,000 tonnes out there into the atmosphere, and we're going to invest in projects that reduce carbon by an equivalent amount," Linda Coady, the vice-president of sustainability for the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, said yesterday.

VANOC had already pledged to offset the Games's emissions, but the announcement was the first time it committed to a target.

Still, without an official sponsor, and less than 10 months to go until the Games, there remains no actual plan to neutralize the impact of the Games.
The head of the Olympic committee, John Furlong, said VANOC is committed to following through.

"We're very confident we're going to have partners in this, but we're not going to say we have them until we have them," he said.

Overall, the organizing committee hopes to offset the emissions created by the 27-day period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games plus travel by participants and spectators.

While previous Olympics have run offset programs, they usually focused on the 17-day period of the Olympic Games.

The estimated cost of offsetting the emissions generated by the 2010 Games is $4.5-million, with emissions currently trading at about $15 a tonne.

But organizers say emissions may be lower than the 300,000-tonne estimate set by the David Suzuki Foundation in 2007.

They say that's due to state-of-the-art technologies used in the design of Games venues that conserve as much energy as possible, as well as their own efforts to cut back emissions.

Paul Lingl, a researcher with the foundation who helped come up with the original figure, said he welcomed yesterday's announcement.

"We do think there is a role for carbon offsets, but they have to be high quality, and they have to meet really high standards," he said.

In their announcement, organizers said they would be using the standards set by the Pacific Carbon Trust, a newly created B.C. Crown corporation.

It's unclear whether the standards set by the trust will be as high as the gold-standard offsets set initially by the World Wildlife Federation and the United Nations.

The Olympic announcement came as world and sport leaders meet in Vancouver to discuss the role sport can play in environmental change.

"What the [International Olympic Committee] has done, what the IOC environmental commission has done and indeed what the Olympic movement has embraced is, for me, a return to the original Olympic spirit," said Prince Albert II of Monaco, who addressed the conference.

Critics of the Olympic movement charge that sustainability efforts undertaken by VANOC don't add up to much.

A protest was scheduled to take place outside the conference later on Monday to highlight some of what the Olympic Resistance Network says are the worst environmental outcomes of hosting a Games.

They say the emissions generated by the Games are more like 3.5 million tonnes.

Without drastic action on climate change, there may not even be Winter Olympics in the future, the David Suzuki Foundation suggested in a study it released yesterday.

Canadian snowboarder Justin Lamoureux said he's already seeing the impacts as he loses training time and space thanks to melting glaciers.

"Imagine a Canada with no pond hockey, no snow days, no skiing," he said.