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Philippines Philippines' Michael Christian Martinez skates during the figure skating training session at the Iceberg Skating Palace at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Jan. 31, 2014. (REUTERS/Grigory Dukor)  

The Winter Olympics are ‘carbon neutral’ thanks to international climate aid

In case you were worried that the Winter Olympics in Sochi were going to contribute to global warming, Russia has given its assurance that the games will be “carbon neutral” and won’t warm the planet.

“With pride, we report that one of the main tasks of the Games organizers has been achieved with minimal impact on the climate,” Olympic organizing committee chief Dmitry Chernyshenko said in a statement. “The program also allows new technological processes to be introduced and opens new methods for future Games organizers to protect the environment.”

Sochi organizers pledged to minimize the climate impact of the games by offsetting their carbon dioxide emissions, such as “the venues’ power consumption during the Games and flights for spectators and officials,” reports the Kremlin-backed R-Sport.

Russia’s carbon neutral pledge, however, does not cover emissions from the construction of the Olympic venues and related infrastructure, reports R-Sport. The pledge also does not cover the hundreds of thousands of flights booked by spectators.

The Olympic committee has not provided any details about how the carbon was offset, only saying that it was done with the help of Olympic games sponsor Dow Chemical. Organizers did say that more than 500,000 metric tons of carbon have been offset.

The carbon neutral pledge was part of Russia’s being chosen to host the winter games back in 2007, beating out South Korea. Russia also pledged to make the games “zero waste,” but reports have already come out saying that promise has been broken.

The $51 billion Olympic games also got a small boost from international aid funds to help “green” the event. In 2010, the Global Environment Facility, a United Nations and the World Bank climate financing institution, directly spent $900,000 to “green” the Sochi games, mustering $13.5 million in co-financing from other governmental and international agencies to help with the effort.

In particular, the money went toward financing energy efficient buildings in the Olympic Village and “a power station using landfill gas recycling.”

Shortly after Sochi won the Olympic bid, Russia got $279,000 from Germany’s International Climate Initiative in 2008 for an “Action Plan for Sustainable Energy Supply for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.”

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