In February 2010, Canada hosted the world’s biggest winter event, the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. With dozens of events, from skiing to skating to hockey, the Games celebrate our love of winter sports and our identity as a northern country.

But what if winter didn’t happen? Scientists tell us we can expect shorter, warmer winters and less snow and ice in the future if we don’t act now on climate change. Future winter Olympics and the future of winter sports are at risk.

Having the eyes of the world focused on Canada as the host of the Winter Olympics offered a great opportunity for Canadians to learn more about climate change, and what they can do to reduce their own carbon footprint. As a result, the David Suzuki Foundation developed recommendations on how the Vancouver Olympic organizers (VANOC) could reduce the Games’ climate impact and make them carbon neutral. Many of these recommendations are outlined in the 2007 report, Meeting the Challenge.

More than 70 Olympic and professional athletes supported the Foundation’s call for VANOC to make the Games carbon neutral. These athletes are first-hand witnesses to the impact of global warming on their sports. Many of these athletes are members of Play It Cool, a joint initiative of the Climate Project Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation that helps athletes reduce their carbon footprint and inspire others to do the same.

Thousands of people from all across the country also signed a petition in support of making the Games carbon neutral. All these voices made a difference.

The 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver raised the bar for climate initiatives, including energy-efficient venues, the use of clean-energy sources, and promoting the use of public transit. Of course, there is still room for improvement, as noted in our Climate Scorecard for the 2010 Winter Games. But we hope that future Olympics and large events will build on the experience of the 2010 Winter Games.

Check the score

How did the 2010 Vancouver Olympics measure up in terms of climate leadership? Check out our Climate Scorecard for the 2010 Olympics.

Reduce your footprint

Find out what you can do to reduce your personal carbon footprint and make your own events and workplace more climate-friendly.

Source: David Suzuki,