2010 Games officials eye global warming costs

VANCOUVER, British Columbia Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:31pm EDT

1 of 2. Environmentalist David Suzuki discusses a report his foundation put out on sport and climate change during a news conference in Vancouver, British Columbia March 30, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Andy Clark

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Organizers of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games said on Monday they are confident they can find sponsors to help with the estimated C$4.5 million ($3.6 million) cost of keeping the event from adding to global warming.

The Winter Games in Vancouver are expected to create about 300,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, including those from airplanes bringing thousands of athletes and spectators to the western Canadian city.

The Vancouver Organizing Committee said it is in talks with carbon offset management companies it hopes will help sponsor the cost of buying credits, which it said is running between C$10 and C$20 a tonne.

But the search for sponsors also comes as VANOC and other international sporting event groups are struggling to line up sponsors amid the global economic crisis.

"We're very confident we will be able to get partners on this," VANOC chief executive John Furlong told reporters outside an international conference in Vancouver on the environmental costs of major sports events.

The offset credits would come from investing in projects such as renewable energy.

While Vancouver is not the only host city to promise a "carbon neutral" Olympics, Canadian organizers say they are also including emissions created outside the 17 days of competition.

"We have expanded the scope by taking in air travel and starting when VANOC started (to include venue construction)," said Linda Coady, who is in charge of sustainability efforts at the committee.

Air travel for athletes and spectators to and from the Games in February 2010 and Paralympic Games in March is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions related to the sporting event, VANOC officials said.

The 300,000-tonne estimate is based on a 2007 study by the environmental David Suzuki Foundation, and organizers say they may have been able to cut that with changes in venue and transportation planning.

A revised estimate is scheduled to be released in October.

The estimated C$4.5 million to buy offset credits is not included in VANOC's C$1.7 billion operating budget, and officials did not

The Suzuki Foundation, which is working with VANOC, released its own report on Sunday warning that global warming is a threat to traditional winter Olympic sports in Canada as shorter winters leading to less ice and snow.

(Reporting by Allan Dowd; Editing by Frank McGurty)

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