Olympic Committee pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Olympic Committee pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) pledged on Wednesday to reduce its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent within the next nine years.

The IOC Executive Board committed to the greenhouse gas reduction target during a virtual meeting, seeking to line up with the Paris Agreement that President Biden announced last week the U.S. would rejoin.

The committee plans to cut down emissions by 30 percent by 2024 in an "immediate reduction target" in order to reach the 45 percent goal six years later. The IOC Sustainability and Legacy Commission is responsible for creating a plan to meet both goals.

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The IOC said it will also offset more than 100 percent of its remaining carbon emissions through the Olympic Forest Project, noting that the offsets will allow the committee to become "climate positive" by 2024, six years earlier than their commitment last year.

Reaching climate positivity would mean the IOC would be taking out more carbon from the atmosphere than it produces.

The committee noted that it will stick to its vow made last March that from 2030 on, each organizing committee for the Olympic Games will have to minimize and compensate its direct and indirect carbon emissions and establish zero-carbon solutions.

The IOC reported its average carbon footprint between 2016 and 2019 reached about 53,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. But all upcoming Olympic games, including the postponed games in Tokyo, have pledged to maintain carbon neutrality.

IOC President Thomas Bach praised the commitment in a statement saying that sports rely “on a healthy planet.”

“As the leader of the Olympic Movement, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to protect our climate,” he said. “This ambitious target puts the IOC in line with the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and helps to advance action on climate change.”

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics were delayed last year after the coronavirus pandemic spread around the world and has since infected more than 100 million people and killed more than 2.1 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Japan declared a state of emergency earlier this month after reaching 300,000 COVID-19 cases, sparking speculation that the country may back out of hosting the games. The games are slated to begin July 23.