Author Archive

A Race We Can Win

Posted on: April 28th, 2020 by Protect Our Winters Canada

By Dan Wilcock, CEO of Canada Games, Originally Published by SIRC

A Race We Can Win: The Sports for Climate Action Framework, by Dan Wilcock, CEO of Canada Games.

We all have an understandable desire to protect the things we love. I happen to love sport – and winter sports in particular. Thirty years ago I remember poring over snow depth charts from the national park where I spent as much time as possible snowboarding. Those charts showed a downward trend in snow depths, opening my eyes to the possibility that a changing climate could negatively affect the places and sports that I love. It was sad to contemplate a future with shorter ski seasons and fewer powder days.

Scientific understanding of climate change, its drivers and impacts has expanded greatly in the last thirty years. It is clear that the relationship between sport and climate change cuts both ways – while sport is increasingly affected by climate impacts, the sport sector itself contributes to the problem. For those of us whose lives revolve around sport and the outdoors, we have an opportunity to position the sport sector for a low-carbon future, so that generations to come will have access to the same experiences we have enjoyed in our lifetimes.

Climate change and why it matters to sport

A recent Canadian study contains some stark conclusions – particularly that Canada’s climate has warmed and will warm further in the future, driven by human influence. Notably, both past and future warming in Canada is, on average, about double the global mean temperature increases. The effects of widespread warming are projected to intensify in the future and include more extreme heat, less extreme cold, longer growing seasons, shorter snow and ice cover seasons, earlier spring peak streamflow, thinning glaciers, thawing permafrost, and rising sea level.

Many sports stand to be affected by warming temperatures and other extreme weather, not just those winter sports that depend on reliable snow and ice. While direct causality is not always clear, over the last year extreme weather conditions have made their presence felt at a long list of sport events. Consider the 2020 Australian Open tennis (heat and smoke); the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan (Typhoon Hagibis); and the 2019 IAAF World Track and Field championships in Qatar (extreme heat). As event organizers, we need to anticipate, develop contingency plans, and adapt to the changes that are already underway to ensure continued positive experiences for athletes and spectators.

 

However, to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that we must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the globe. Staying below 1.5˚C of warming means that we have to reduce GHG emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050. Meeting the scale of the challenge requires action by all sectors to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The sport sector makes significant contributions to GHG emissions, and so equally, sport has a role to play in tackling climate change. The travel and logistics involved in bringing people together at sport events comes at an environmental cost. For example, each Canada Games involves thousands of athletes, volunteers, spectators and stakeholders traveling from across Canada, generating significant GHG emissions. While it is impossible for the sport sector to avoid all travel-related emissions, there are other options to consider, such as purchasing carbon offsets. Our first task is to carefully analyze our operations and identify opportunities to reduce our climate impacts. The current context of the pandemic is forcing many sport organizations to reconsider our essential operating models, providing a unique opportunity to consider new approaches.

At the Canada Games Council, we are passionate about our Games, the Canadian sport landscape and the positive role of sport in society. Now, more than ever, we need to work collaboratively to reduce the environmental footprint of our events and drive global climate action for a safer planet. That is why we made the decision to join the Sports for Climate Action Framework.

The Sports for Climate Action Framework

In December 2018, UN Climate Change, in partnership with the International Olympic Committee, launched the “Sports for Climate Action Framework.” The Framework sets the course for the global sport community to respond to climate change in a systematic and comprehensive manner. The approach builds on sport’s unique ability to inform and mobilize millions of people around a love of sport. Sport organizations can display leadership on global climate action by taking responsibility for their climate footprint and inspiring others to take action on climate change beyond the sport sector.

When the Canada Games Council signed onto the Framework in December 2019, we committed to strengthening our sustainability efforts and increasing our level of ambition for climate action. We are aiming to advance our sustainability practices across the economic, social and environmental dimensions of the Canada Games, while supporting our Host Societies and partners in their efforts to do the same. These efforts will touch on everything from office services, sport operations, transportation, capital construction, food services, venue overlay to merchandising. We will strive towards the following five commitments in the Framework:

  1. promote greater environmental responsibility;
  2. reduce overall climate impact;
  3. educate for climate action;
  4. promote sustainable and responsible consumption; and
  5. advocate for climate action through our communications.

Well over 100 sports organizations have already joined the Framework, including:

  • The IOC, Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024;
  • National Basketball Association;
  • International Ski Federation;
  • World Rowing Federation;
  • International Federation of Association Football; and
  • International Ice Hockey Federation.

I look forward to teaming up with other Canadian participants, such as the Banff Marathon and Surf Canada, while exploring opportunities to collaborate with other organizations such as Protect Our Winters.

The Canada Games celebrate and showcase Canada’s next generation of athletes and leaders. I am constantly impressed by the passion, clarity and urgency that youth bring to the dialogue about the world that they will inherit. On this issue we can help educate our athletes and other participants, empowering them to advocate for climate action in their own communities.

The challenges of climate change will not be solved in one day, or one year, or with one environmentally sustainable event. It is important to realize that we do not need to have all the answers before taking any action at all. I know that we certainly do not. But by committing to the principles in the Sports for Climate Action Framework, the Canada Games has raised its level of ambition and taken the next step in its journey towards sustainability. This is a race we can win and we would welcome other Canadian partners in contributing to the realization of this goal.

About the Author(s)

Dan Wilcock, President and CEO of the Canada Games Council, is a lawyer by background and has served in a number of executive roles in the Government of Canada, in  areas including environmental policy, international relations, competition law and marketing law. He has experience in high-level sport as a competitor, coach and organizer in snowboarding, which he helped develop in Australia and the US. Dan has participated in almost every sport on the Canada Games program.

 

#FactBack: 2020 World Changing Ideas Finalist

Posted on: April 26th, 2020 by Protect Our Winters Canada

We are proud to announce that the “Fact Avalanche” our project with SidLee, is a finalist in the Advertising category of Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards.

The World Changing Ideas Awards honour the businesses, policies, projects, and concepts that are actively engaged and deeply committed to flattening the curve when it comes to the climate crisis, social injustice and economic inequality.

 

“It goes without saying that we are very honoured to be recognized by Fast Company on this remarkable list of innovative solutions. As an organization, we aim to use our creativity and innovation to respond to the challenges that we collectively face, “said Vito Piazza, group president of Sid Lee. “We are confident that this nomination will galvanize our artisans across the world to continue to create work that matters and inspire others to use their talent to benefit us all”.

The Fact Avalanche is an online tool designed to counter misinformation and skepticism surrounding climate change and engulf climate change deniers’ tweets in truth. The platform gives a voice to people striving to stop the spread of false information about climate change.

“There seems no better time to recognize organizations that are using their ingenuity, resources, and, in some cases, their scale to tackle society’s biggest problems,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists, under the leadership of senior editor Morgan Clendaniel, have uncovered some of the smartest and most inspiring projects of the year.”

If you haven’t joined the #FactBack campaign, take a moment now to do so JOIN #FACTBACK

Corona Virus & Climate Change

Posted on: March 31st, 2020 by Protect Our Winters Canada

It has been impressive to see how the Canadian government has responded to COVID-19. It’s a crisis of epic magnitude and has sent tremors through every province and territory resulting in unthinkable pain and loss for millions of people in Canada around the world.  

 

As we watch Prime Minister Trudeau put forward comprehensive, never-seen-before levels of economic stimulus and relief, we’re wondering what lessons might this crisis response teach us for how we approach the climate crisis?

Leah Stokes, a Canadian political scientist who teaches at UC Santa Barbara, told the Los Angeles Times, “it suddenly becomes really questionable why there’s never any money to deal with this [climate] crisis.”

The LA Times is a good read and highlights the important role government and policy play in addressing national and global crises that can’t be effectively tackled at regional levels alone. 

https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2020-03-24/what-coronavirus-like-response-to-climate-crisis-would-look-like

Like Trees? Watch This

Posted on: March 30th, 2020 by Protect Our Winters Canada

When we move through the forest in winter, we’re often left wonderstruck by snow-shrouded trees bent and morphed from years of wear in silent solitude. Their depth of character becomes evident as we weave ourselves into their lives and ecosystems. But we often tell our stories and not theirs. Patagonia’s film Treeline follows skiers and snowboarders as they move through three extraordinary forest landscapes across Japan, British Columbia and Nevada, exploring the connection between humans and our oldest living companions.

 

Annual Report to Members

Posted on: March 28th, 2020 by Protect Our Winters Canada

It’s an understatement to say these are challenging times. Much like climate change, this crisis transcends social and economic classes as well as regional and territorial divides: it effects ALL of us. At a time when we are all looking for engaging and inspiring content, we share our Annual Report which highlights the activities and achievements of our community and movement in 2019. We reached over 12,000 students with Hot Planet Cool Athletes, ran two successful campaigns with massive engagement during the fall federal election, welcomed 8,000 members into the movement (19,000 on social), set-up 10 regional chapters across Canada and ran LOTS of events. These are collective achievements, only made possible by a committed and dynamic community passionate about protecting the places and experiences we love.

POW Canada 2019 Annual Report

Policy Works

Posted on: March 13th, 2020 by Protect Our Winters Canada

Ontario’s “Progressive” Conservative government is providing a great case study on the power of policy to address climate change. After being elected in June 2018, Doug Ford’s government eliminated the electric vehicle subsidy which provided Ontarians with up to $14,000 rebate on new purchases. The result? In the first 6 months of 2019, electric vehicle sales plummeted 55% from the same period in 2018. In the second quarter of last year, 2933 electric vehicles were sold in Ontario compared to 7110 in the same period in 2018. Compare this to Quebec and BC, where they still have provincial rebates and electric vehicles sales have skyrocketed. They now represent 7% and 10 % of overall new vehicle sales respectively. These are the policies that will have a great impact on our ability to take action against climate change and ultimately what we are fighting for at POW.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/year-ont-electric-vehicles-1.5397190

 

A BIG Victory for Climate Action

Posted on: February 25th, 2020 by Protect Our Winters Canada

There aren’t a lot of “wins” in climate, so when they do happen you really need to celebrate! Earlier this week, mining giant Teck Resources Ltd. withdrew its application for what would have been the largest oilsands project in history.  What’s even bigger than this win is where it came from; Teck Resources themselves.

CEO Don Lindsay and his board pulled the plug due to the growing pressure from Canadians and market interests: “Global capital markets are changing rapidly and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change, in order to produce the cleanest possible products. This does not yet exist here today and, unfortunately, the growing debate around this issue has placed Frontier and our company squarely at the nexus of much broader issues that need to be resolved. In that context, it is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for the project. Questions about the societal implications of energy development, climate change and Indigenous rights are critically important ones for Canada, its provinces and Indigenous governments to work through.” 

 

The POW Canada community mobilized swiftly around this issue and collectively sent 4,120 emails to decision makers in Ottawa as part of the #RejectTeck campaign – a campaign involving numerous groups and led by Indigenous Climate Action (that’s BIG!!). This perfectly illustrates how this type of collaborative and collective action really does work.  

As Teck’s decision highlights, the lack of policy in Alberta and other provinces is creating uncertainty for institutional investors. Our hope is for provincial and federal governments to agree on climate policy that will enable Canada to reach its emissions reduction targets (30% below 2005 levels by 2030 – our current path is only 8% reduction) and create investor certainty as markets shift toward a lower-carbon reality. It will be a difficult conversation, but necessary to ensure Canada is economically well positioned in the global transition to renewables. While much of the conversation (rightly so) is focused on carbon pricing, POW Canada also advocates for policies that positions Canadian workers and families, particularly in Alberta, to thrive in a new clean, low-carbon future.

As an organization, we remain committed to organizing the outdoor community to be actively engaged in the fight to save and protect the places and experience we love. We want to thank EVERYONE who took part in our #RejectTeck campaign. With thousands of emails sent to representatives, our collective action led to real impact.

So…take time today to celebrate that your action made a difference. You played an active role in creating the pressure and unrest needed for this project to be abandoned. But know that we have lots more to do. Right now the most important thing you can do is to help grow the POW Canada movement – share this message with a friend, tell them about the good things we’re doing and ask them to join – there’s #POWerInNumbers.  

Climate Saviour?

Posted on: February 24th, 2020 by Protect Our Winters Canada

Remember Mark Carney – the former Governor of the Bank of Canada who looks like George Clooney and just happens to be one of the most respected economists and bankers in the world? Well, after leaving his role with Bank of Canada he held a similar role with Bank of England and is now the UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance.

 

“The thing that I’m working on is to make sure the financial system is thinking every day, every minute of every day, about that issue. And it’s putting money behind those who are solving the problem — or are part of the solution — and it’s taking money away from those who aren’t moving fast enough,” Carney says. “It’s time to get on with it. It’s transition, transition, transition.”

Listen to his interview with Michael Enwright on CBC Radio’s Sunday Edition or read the full article : Click Here