Seminar on climatechange and the future of winter sports

Yesterday, at Storsjöteatern in Östersund, the WCH-organisation together with the climate organisation We Don’t Have Time and the Vinnova-initiative Peak Innovation, arranged a sustainability seminar to discuss the sport community’s roll in climate change. Participating at the panel was Kit McConnell (International Olympic Committee), Svante Axelsson (Fossilfritt Sverige), and Sofia Domeij (Swedish Biathlon Federation), amongst others.

This year’s championship in Östersund is an environmentally aware arrangement, where a lot of work has gone in to minimizing the events carbon footprint. The tents at the venue are heated through wind-energy, a lot of the food that is served has been locally produced, and the food which is not locally produced has been calculated and compensated for.

– I am very proud, because we’ve been working with this since 2008,
says Sofia Domeij. We started focusing on the energy we use in 2008, and have from then until now continuously taken steps to lessen the effect we have on the climate, and to become a fossil free championship.

It was with this awareness in mind that the seminar at Storsjötatearn was arranged yesterday, March 14. In Östersund we get about 5-6 months of snow per year, but we are also losing nearly 1-2 snowdays. If this continues and nothing is done it would mean that we would only get 1-2 months of snow year 2060. Something that would affect the winter-sports drastically. It is therefore optimal for the sporting community and it’s arrangers to take a leading role in the question regarding climate change.

– I think that the winter-sport community have a perfect arena to be a positive leader in this, says Svante Axelsson from Fossilfritt Sverige. Most people know about the problems, but don’t see the solutions. We have a possibility to show others how it can be done, and that it is possible.

Erik Melin Söderström, från Peak Innovation, also spoke of the possibility for winter-sports and Sweden to take a leading role in this question.

– We are not a big country, but we are a skiing country. If we can show others that we can lessen our carbon footprint and still be on top, then we can inspire others through showing that it’s possible. We’re not the biggest, but we can be the best.

Winter-sports are facing great consequences regarding climate change. The World Championships in Östersund has therefor been seen as a great opportunity to start the work that needs to be done, and to inspire others. More climate friendly trips have been advertised, electrical cars have been used by arrangers, and there has been an extra awareness surrounding the events partners. A lot more needs to be done, but Östersund and the WCH-organisation are trying to pave the way towards a continuously environmentally aware work, that can hopefully lead to a snowier future.

Text: Marie Degerström
Foto: Reinhold Skoglund