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NHL defends ice in new push against climate change

NHL defends ice in new push against climate change
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The National Hockey League is joining with a top energy provider to offset its carbon footprint across all 30 team markets.

The NHL announced on Thursday that it will partner with energy and services provider Constellation to reduce its energy usage and cut its carbon emissions.

Following through on its plan to fight climate change outlined in a first-of-its-kind sustainability report, the NHL said Constellation will help it offset its entire carbon emissions for the 2014-15 season.

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“The announcement today reflects the most important environmental initiative ever announced by a professional sports league globally,” said Allen Hershkowitz, president of the Green Sports Alliance.

Hershkowitz, who has worked with the NHL Green program, said while the league may emit a small amount of carbon -- 550 thousand tons a year -- compared to one coal power plant, its action is significant.

“It’s important because the NHL is using its market and cultural influence to educate millions of people around the world about threatening climate disruption,” Hershkowitz said on a call with reporters Thursday.

In its sustainability report issued earlier this year, the NHL warned that climate change is threatening the future of the sport, and could jeopardize opportunities for hockey players of all ages to learn and play the game outdoors.

“Our partnership with Constellation advances our commitment to promoting responsible energy use by the NHL, including our teams, our venues and our fans,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

“Our sport was born on frozen ponds and relies on winter weather. Everyone who loves our game will benefit by taking an active role in preserving the environment and the roots of the game,” he added.

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The partnership will focus on using biomass and wind to offset other energy sources. Constellation will also work on gas capture at landfills and help NHL promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Constellation will advise NHL on energy management strategies for all league facilities. 

Additionally, the NHL will promote the actions and steps it is taking on its NHL live program, and across the Winter Classic, playoffs, and Stanley Cup.

“To have the NHL partner with Constellation to say that global warming matters and that ‘we are going public and will try to reduce our carbon footprint’ has enormous cultural influence. There needs to be a cultural shift in the marketplace,” Hershkowitz said.