The Dow Chemical Company, reported to be the third largest chemical company in the world after BASF and DuPont, is seeking to make a splash over its contribution to making the Sochi games carbon neutral. Dow claims, and worldwide environmental consultancy ERM has verified, that the 2014 Olympic Winter Games is the first Games in history to mitigate the entire direct carbon footprint of its Organizing Committee prior to the Opening Ceremony. The footprint is said to includes emissions associated with the travel and accommodation of athletes, staff, and volunteers, the operation of the sports venues during Games time, and the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee’s activities from 2007 (when Russia received the right to host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games) until the Paralympic Games’ Closing Ceremony, on March 17, 2014.
Dow also claims that this will be the first Olympic Games to offset 100 percent of the estimated travel footprint associated with spectators and media, amounting to 160,000 metric tons (MT) of CO2 equivalent emissions. The travel footprint is one of the most significant contributors to the emissions of a world-class international event – such as the Olympic Games. The offsets are coming from energy efficient and low-carbon technologies in the areas of infrastructure, industry and agriculture throughout the Russian Federation and in Brazil and South Korea – countries that will host the next two Olympic Games. Dow is also including offsets from a landfill gas project which partially powers its own operations in Georgia, USA.
The International Olympic Committee appointed Dow as the Official Chemistry Company of the Olympic Games and the Official Carbon Partner of Sochi 2014 in March 2013. An appointment this late in the Games’ planning and construction cycle almost certainly meant that most of the zero carbon challenge would have to be met by offsets rather than by installed low carbon technologies. Although carbon offsets are widely used, and in this case meet the standards of the International Carbon Offset and Reduction Alliance Code of Practice, they are not without controversy. We will discuss carbon offsets and carbon offset projects in a future issue of Gallon Environment Letter.
Dow Chemical was one of the early adopters of the concept of Sustainable Development, back in the late 1980’s, and has maintained something of a leadership position since that time. Many Canadians will remember the legacy of David Buzzelli, CEO of Dow Chemical Canada, during this period. Today, having retired from Dow, he is a member of the Board of Directors of McLaren Health Care, an integrated health care company in Michigan.
Dow announcements about the carbon neutrality of the Sochi games can be found at http://www.dow.com/news/press-releases/article/?id=6346 and http://www.dow.com/news/press-releases/article/?id=6429
A website about Dow’s Olympic partnership is at http://olympicpartnership.dow.com/en/sochi-2014/carbon-partnership/our-sustainable-future