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Vancouver to Offset 300,000 tons of CO2 at 2010 Olympics

2010olympicgamesOffsetters Green Technology Inc., a Canadian-based carbon asset management company and supplier of carbon offsets, will offset up to 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. The company plans to partner with local clean-technology companies including Nexterra, Sempa Power, Lignol Innovations, Ballard Power and Powertech to create and verify the clean-tech offset projects.

The carbon offset portfolio will invest in clean technology projects that improve energy efficiency or produce renewable energy. Some of the proposed offset projects include fuel cell technology in transit buses, energy-efficiency systems, as well as biomass gasification and hydrogen fueling stations to reduce industrial use of gasoline and electricity.

Under the agreement with the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the projects will reduce a minimum of 110,000 tons of direct carbon emissions into the atmosphere, and offset an additional estimated 190,000 tons of indirect carbon emissions from the Olympic Games caused by activities such as air travel. Indirect carbon emissions will be offset through collaboration with Olympic partners, sponsors and participants.

Critics say the sponsorship deal with Offsetters doesn’t include more than half of the estimated emissions associated with playing host to the Olympic Games, reports CBCNews.ca. They say the sponsorship deal, worth about $5 million, doesn’t include an estimated 190,000 tons of “indirect” emissions, including flights to bring athletes, spectators and sponsors to Vancouver.

Linda Coady, the organizing committee’s vice-president of sustainability, told CBCNews that organizers still have an overall goal of offsetting 300,000 tons of emissions, but it will be up to competing countries, sponsors and spectators to buy their own offsets from Offsetters to make up the difference.

Deborah Carlson, a climate change specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation, said in the article that Vancouver’s Olympic organizing committee needs to ensure all of the emissions are offset if they want to claim to be carbon neutral. She also said Olympic organizers still deserve credit for the offsets they are getting, and for stressing sustainability in other areas such as venue construction.

VANOC says the 2010 Winter Games is the first in Olympic history to have an Official Supplier of Carbon Offsets. All projects will be high-quality offsets consistent with the new British Columbia provincial greenhouse gas regulations, and meet or exceed the highest international standard for carbon accounting and offsetting, says the organization.

VANOC and its partners also have incorporated sustainability principles in their venue and operational plans including strategic venue site selection, innovative approaches to energy management, and expanded public transit to help reduce fuel use and carbon emissions.

Adopting green practices is becoming common for Olympic host cities these days.

For the 2008 Olympics, Beijing launched massive efforts to reduce emissions from factories.

And London, which hosts the 2012 Olympics, has set a goal to be the greenest city in the world by then.

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