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IOC chief vows to build on new UN observer status

February 29 2024 - News Release News Editorial

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach believes the authority’s new status as an observer to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will give the organisation a launchpad to ramp up its sustainability efforts.

IOC chief vows to build on new UN observer status

The IOC claims that the new status underlines its commitment to reducing emissions and utilising sport as an important tool to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

As part of the commitment, the IOC has set itself the goal of reducing its own emissions by 30 per cent by the end of this year and by 50 per cent at the end of the decade.

“We want to use the power of sport to help address one of the biggest challenges humanity is faced with,” Bach said.

“Being an observer to the UN Climate Change process gives us an opportunity to contribute to the climate change debate, and build and strengthen relationships in our ongoing mission to build a better world through sport, including where climate change is concerned.”

The UNFCCC is a global agreement on climate change and forms the foundation for the annual COP meetings.

This year’s Olympic Games, Paris 2024, will be the first held in alignment with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which came about at COP21 in 2015.

Organisers are aiming to set the standard for hosting major events in an environmentally friendly manner by reducing the Games’ carbon footprint by half compared to the average of London 2012 and Rio 2016.

“We want to use the power of sport to help address one of the biggest challenges humanity is faced with." International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach

Sustainability features heavily in the IOC’s strategic roadmap, Olympic Agenda 2020 and Olympic Agenda 2020+5.

The IOC has increased its requirements for the Olympic Games to address climate change. From 2030 onwards, Games organisers will be obliged to minimise direct and indirect Games-related carbon emissions.

This comes after the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, an event that was widely deemed to be especially damaging for the environment.

The Games were heavily reliant on the creation of fake snow, resulting in the use of around 49 million gallons of water, 130 fan-operated snow generators and 300 snow-making guns which created 1.2 million cubic metres of powder.

Image: Bryan Turner on Unsplash

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