In the week of its Annual Congress, FIS is starting to show some signs of movement on sustainability, according to a new update from Protect Our Winters (POW).

There are hints that the race calendar will be changed to reduce transatlantic travel and be delayed in its start by a week. The appointment of a Sustainability Director is also a long overdue and welcome step.

Following the open letter demanding climate action from over 500 FIS athletes, the subsequent coverage in sports and news media is apparently having an effect.

(c) Milko Stoev-09

Sustainability lacks ‘transparency and credibility’

However, POW point out that the publication of a sustainability strategy still has no date in sight and in its core communication around its climate action FIS is still lacking transparency and credibility.

FIS continues to claim it operates as a ‘Climate Positive’ organisation, but relies heavily on avoided deforested offsets in the Amazon to achieve this status.

Validity of offsets questioned

The offsets are carried out by Cool Earth – an organisation founded and co-chaired by FIS president Johan Eliasch. There is no publicly available information on the size of the forests invested in; the deforestation threats that the forest faces; or even the amount spent by FIS on this programme.

The quality of the information provided by FIS has been called into question by a third party study carried out by Mission Zero – Klima Partner.

The study was commissioned by Greenpeace and assessed the ‘FIS Events Emission Estimation Executive Summary’ for plausibility, based on the expertise of athletes, insiders and information from World Cup venues.

You can read the full study in German here and a 4-page summary in English here.

Implausible calculations

Mission Zero’s assessment revealed that just four events (in Kitzbühel, Schladming, Adelboden and Sölden), as well as athlete flights (at World Cup level), accounted for 85% of the total emissions attributed to the Alpine Skiing sector in the FIS calculations.

With over 30 World Cup events, 300 continental events, and hundreds of smaller race events it suggests that FIS are massively underreporting their event emissions.

The report concluded:

“It can be stated that FIS…fails to provide a transparent and comprehensible assessment. All calculations…indicate an implausible and underestimated overall evaluation of emissions.”

No greenwashing

The results of this study make clear that FIS must:

  • Improve both its emission reporting and the transparency of its offsetting
  • Switch from a focus on offsetting to true emissions reduction
  • Stop claiming to be ‘Climate Positive’

To do any less would be tantamount to greenwashing.