Date: July 27, 2005

The winter Olympics next year in Turin will be the first large scale sporting event to be “carbon neutral, ” organizers say. That means that the estimated 137,789 tons of carbon dioxide produced during the Games – carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas scientists say causes global warming – will be offset by forestation and renewable energy projects and efficiency initiatives both in Italy and elsewhere. “The aim is to offset overall carbon dioxide emissions by at least the amount that the Turin Games will generate,” said Mary Villa, a press officer with the Turin Olympic Committee. “The Turin Olympic Committee has decided to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.” The Games will take place at a time when most of Europe is struggling to meet greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets as required under the Kyoto Protocol. Italy, for example, must slash emission by around 36.38 million tons per year compared to today's levels in order to reach its goal of reducing emissions by 6.5 percent compared to 1990 levels no later than by 2012. The Kyoto Protocol gives countries credits foremissions reduction initiatives they fund, even if they are beyond that country's borders.The initiative is organized by HECTOR (Heritage Climate Torino), which is part of the Turin Olympic Committee. More than half of HECTOR's $6 million (U.S.) budget – $3.8 million – is paid for by the Piedmont Regional Government, the part of Italy thatincludes Turin. “Environmental awareness makes sense for a region like Piedmont, which has pristine Alpine Regions and also a major industrial center like Turin,” said Claudio Rey, the assistant environmental compliance officer for the regional government. “This is a way for Piedmont to illustrate how important environmental protection is, and in a way that will be effective and highly visible.” The remaining money for HECTOR's budget will come from other government sources and from the private sector, officials say. The process will require companies and organizations bidding on major projects for the Turin Games to include plans on how to neutralize carbon emissions through other projects. The credits for those projects will be given to the Turin Olympic Committee under the terms of the project, assuring that while the Olympics are taking place Feb.10-26, 2006, they will have a neutral impact on the climate.”We hope that this will be part of a trend that will see future events such as the summer Olympics or the World Cup, follow Turin's lead,” Rey said.

Interviewed for this story: Mary Villa +39-011-112-4916; Claudio Rey +39-011-522-1035