The former candidate cities for the 2016 Olympic games may have fought over green credentials, but Vancouver isn’t doing too bad itself for next year’s games. The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) plans to offset all emissions at the event–that’s 118,000 tons of CO2 emissions from things like construction, staff travel, and even the torch run.
While past Olympic games have offset emissions, the Vancouver event is the first to take into account venue construction and preparation. That’s a smart move–all those plane rides from place to place spew tons of emissions. It’s also a move that makes the Vancouver games significantly more expensive to offset than previous games.
Some of the offsetting burden will be shouldered by visitors to the Olympics. VANOC has developed a carbon calculator to let visitors figure out how much they need to pay to offset all the carbon emissions from their journey. A 17-day trip, for example, would cost $58. It’s not cheap, but VANOC still expects between 30% and 50% of all visitors to sign up.
Why the large turnout? Fewer than 5% of travelers normally buy offsets, but VANOC has signed up 25 sponsors and TV networks to help spread the word. If VANOC’s prediction comes true, that’s good news for the carbon offset industry, which will get a huge jolt in exposure and a whole new audience.