• This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Earth.Org Newsletters

    Get focused newsletters especially designed to be concise and easy to digest

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Polluting Companies Sponsor ‘Collapsing’ Winter Sports Sector as Global Warming Impacts Snow Cover: Report

CRISIS - Atmospheric CO2 Levels CRISIS - Biosystem Viability by Martina Igini Americas Europe Feb 28th 20233 mins
Polluting Companies Sponsor ‘Collapsing’ Winter Sports Sector as Global Warming Impacts Snow Cover: Report

A new study found that polluting companies, including carmakers and airlines, sponsored over 100 winter sports events, organisations, and athletes.

Just as an unprecedented and challenging winter season comes to an end, a new report suggests that dozens of winter sports events and athletes are being sponsored by high-carbon, polluting companies. 

The study, conducted by campaign group Badvertising and think-tank New Weather Sweden, reveals how major polluters back snow sports despite being responsible for the industry’s collapse. 

The authors identified a total of 107 high-carbon sponsorship deals with skiing organisations, event organisers, teams, and individual athletes. 83 deals were led by car manufacturers, 54 of which involved German company Audi, a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG. Fossil fuel companies signed 12 deals while airlines were behind 5.

The study also estimates that between 202 million and 606 million tonnes of extra greenhouse gas emissions per year are likely linked to the increased demand due to global car and airline advertising.

“Through their pollution, high-carbon sponsors of winter sports are melting the future of the very sports they sponsor,” the report reads.

“With their clean, healthy outdoor image, winter sports are especially attractive to sponsorship from major polluters who want to ‘sportwash’ their image.”

You might also like: The Role of Sports in Climate Change

Global warming is threatening the very future of winter sports. Several European countries, home to some of the world’s most popular ski resorts, are currently dealing with a record winter season and an unprecedented snow shortage that has forced several ski slopes to shut down, at least temporarily.  

According to the report, winters are expected to shrink at a rate of 4.7 days per decade, with the European market alone expected to lose about 10.1 million guest nights per winter season. In a high-emission scenario, however, the winter season could be as short as 31 days by the end of the century.  

snow shortage; european warm winter

This winter’s lack of snow and unprecedented warmth has forced hundreds of popular ski resorts in key tourist areas across Europe to shut down early.

A recent study by the University of Basel warned that ski resorts will have to increase their reliance on artificial snow as global warming progresses. Between 1967 and 2015, snow coverage in Europe in March and April decreased by 13% on average and by 76% in June. And given the elevated amount of water required for making snow, from now until the end of the century, resorts’ water consumption is expected to increase by about 80%, up to 540 million litres compared with 300 million litres used today.

The Winter Olympics – a popular winter sports event that every four years brings together about 3,000 athletes from all over the world to compete in 15 disciplines – is also uncertain. According to a study from the University of Waterloo, at the current trend, only one of the 21 cities that hosted the games in the past century will have a climate suitable for winter sports by 2100.

It is certainly not the first time that polluting companies take advantage of popular events to get exposure. Paradoxically, the world’s most important climate summit conference – the UN Conference of the Parties – is often baked by high-carbon companies. Last year’s COP27 summit in Egypt, for example, was sponsored by Coca-Cola. According to a report, the world’s largest non-alcoholic beverage company, already known for its excessive use of plastic, increased its non-recycled plastic use in the year leading up to the conference.

Featured image by Pixabay

You might also like: What Europe’s Snow Shortage Tells Us About Global Warming


About the Author

Martina Igini

Martina is the Managing Editor at Earth.Org. She holds two BA degrees, in Translation/Interpreting Studies and Journalism, and a MA in International Development from the University of Vienna. After working at the United Nations Global Communication Department in Vienna, she joined a newspaper in Italy as a reporter before moving to Hong Kong in 2020. Her interests include sustainability and the role of public policy in environmental protection with a focus on developing countries.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Hand-picked stories once a fortnight. We promise, no spam!

Instagram @earthorg Follow Us