Canada pledges Games will be carbon neutral

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Games will leave no footprint on the earth’s climate, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said Tuesday.

In partnership with the organizers, the Harper government will spend up to $150,000 on green initiatives that reduce emissions to make Canada the first host country of the Olympics to stage a carbon-neutral event.

“Canada is proud to be the first host country in history to help offset the greenhouse gas emissions of its Olympic Games,” Prentice said in Vancouver.

The government estimated that all of the travel, activities and people involved in the Games along with the torch relay event had caused about 7,600 tonnes of emissions which trap heat in the atmosphere and can contribute to warming the climate.

Officials would use a science-based approach to calculate the total emissions at the end of the Games and then invest the money in certifiable projects that reduce emissions, such as investments in renewable heat and power production projects, high efficiency heating systems in commercial buildings, and electricity production from hydrogen fuel cells.

Environment Canada scientists were also consulted on other aspects of the event and venues to reduce environmental impacts and promote sustainability.

For example, the ski jump event was moved at the Whistler Nordic Centre to reduce impacts on local habitat and wildlife in an old growth forest.

Prentice said the government also wanted to help showcase new Canadian technologies and research that protect the environment at the event.

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