Last month over one hundred ski racers signed an open letter to FIS, coordinated by Protect Our Winters ambassador Julian Schütter.

The letter, most recently updated on 10 March, has now been signed by over 450 athletes, including stars like Mikaela Shiffrin and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, demands greater action from FIS and transparency on the organisation’s climate policies.

It notes the impact of climate change on the world of ski racing, including:

  • More competitions being cancelled due to extreme weather events or lack of snow
  • Pre-season training slopes becoming shorter every year, as glaciers shrink
  • The urgent existential threat to the sport

The letter calls for…

  • FIS to commit to net-zero for by 2035
  • FIS to create a sustainability strategy of how to achieve the 50% emissions reduction by 2030, as committed to through the UN Sports for Climate Action framework and present it to the public before the start of 2024 season
  • FIS to install a sustainability department, controlled and certified by an independent organization
  • Full transparency

Ideas suggested by athletes

  • Starting the season later (in November) and finishing it later (in April)
  • Changing the race schedule so that it’s more logical e.g. placing North American races consecutively in the calendar
  • Encouraging national federations to measure and reduce their carbon footprint

FIS initially responded without making any commitments, and also disagreed that its sustainability efforts were insufficient.

Questions still to be answered…

  • FIS claims to have made a full assessment of its Carbon Footprint over the last two seasons, yet these details have not been made public
  • FIS says it signed the UNFCCC Sports for Climate Action Frameworkin 2021 but has not met the demands of the framework, nor is it listed as a signatory on their website
  • FIS’s claim of ‘Climate Positive’ status relies on the use of ‘avoided deforestation offsets’. The amount of money spent and carbon preserved by these projects has not been made publicly available

Ursula Bittner from Greenpeace Austria claims FIS is guilty of greenwashing:

“Terms such as climate-neutral or being climate-positive are misleading. They are nothing more than pure greenwashing. The basis of skiing is melting away.”