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Olympic athletes encouraged to offset travel emissions to China


Beijing, China – All athletes aiming to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics can win gold by investing carbon emissions from their plane flights into a Gold Standard climate-change offset project, according to WWF.

With just 500 days to go until the 2008 Games, athletes have time to offset the environmental cost of their flights to Beijing. Long-distance flights are responsible for 2 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions per year. On average each athlete will cause the release of around 4 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere in his or her bid to win an Olympic medal.

In preparation for the Games, WWF is calling on athletes to be climate winners by donating the equivalent of the average carbon cost of their flight to offsetting their emissions.

“If athletes offset their carbon emissions at a Gold Standard level it gives them the opportunity to contribute towards a healthier planet and a healthier Olympic Games,” said James Leape, Director General of WWF International.

The Beijing Olympics is expected to bring 10,000 athletes to China by air from more than 200 countries and regions and, together with thousands of spectators, the event will inject hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.

WWF is working with the wholesale and retail offset business to develop an opportunity for athletes, supporters, the media and anyone else planning to travel to the Games so they can easily enter their journey details, calculate their relevant CO2 emission through a carbon calculator, and donate to a Gold Standard project such as a wind farm, solar power station or other energy efficiency projects.

“This isn’t a high jump. We are hurdling towards a dangerous future if we don’t dramatically reduce carbon emissions,” said WWF China Country Representative Dermot O’Gorman.

“We want athletes to inspire people to make their air travels more environmentally friendly. Each of us is wrestling with the impacts of global warming and we need to row in the same direction, each working towards our personal best to reduce our emissions.”

• The Gold Standard is the first independent best-practice benchmark for the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation greenhouse gas projects, which was formally established in 2003 after long-term consultation with government departments, environmental agencies, private enterprises (including investors and project developers) and certification organizations.

• Offsetting your emissions means adding a price to the cost of a polluting activity, such as flying, driving a car, heating or cooling. The additional money is being invested in projects that reduce overall global emissions, such as clean energy plants or energy efficiency projects. Prices for one emission credit (the equivalent of 1 tonne of CO2 emissions) range from €5 to €15. A flight from Paris to Beijing would emit about 2000kg of CO2 for an economy flight with modest luggage. Athletes with their often cumbersome gear could expect to encounter offset costs of up to €100.


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