On February 10th, 2014, US Ski Team member and 2014 Olympian, Andrew Newell, joined 105 Olympians with a call-to-action. Protect Our Winters released a statement calling on world leaders to take action on climate change and to prepare a commitment to a global agreement prior to UN Framework Convention in Paris in 2015.
“Recognize climate change by reducing emissions, embracing clean energy and preparing a commitment to a global agreement at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris 2015.”
Andy Newell of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team. Photo: Pete Vordenberg
The letter has been signed by 105 Olympians from countries that include: The United States, Switzerland, Norway, Estonia, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden. In addition to Newell, some of the 105 athletes include: US snowboarders Danny Davis and Arielle Gold, Switzerland’s Bettina Gruber, Norway’s Astrid Jacobsen and Italian ski jumper Elena Runggaldier.
This year alone, nearly half of the FIS cross country World Cup international competitions have taken place on artificial snow. Even last year in Sochi, several pre-Olympic skiing and snowboarding events had to be canceled because of poor conditions, something that has been a consistent problem both in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Snow conditions are becoming much more inconsistent, weather patterns more erratic, and what was once a topic for discussion is now reality and fact. Our climate is changing and we are losing our winters.
Given this, and after having seen climate change affecting his local training grounds in Vermont, Newell decided that the Olympics would be a good opportunity to galvanize the global community of winter Olympians, raise the level of awareness at the policy level and take action on a global stage. The athletes are calling on world leaders to come together at the UN Framework Convention in Paris in 2015 to finally take bold and immediate measures to tackle climate change.
“We know that as the snowpack declines, the sobering economic impacts start to impact communities everywhere”, said Chris Steinkamp, POW’s Executive Director. “Having this quantity and caliber of Olympians make this statement this week should be a clear wake up call for world leaders.”
Andy Newell (center) starts the USSA Cross Country SuperTour in Utah. Photo: Ski Channel
“We can’t risk inaction any longer and we’re asking our world leaders to come together in the spirit of something bigger than just our individual goals,” Newell said. “On behalf of the more than 100 Olympians have signed this letter, we’re urging you to act in Paris to set limits on global emissions and take meaningful steps forward in fighting climate change. It can be done and let’s use the global stage of the Olympics as the call to action.”
The entire list of athletes and a full statement written by Newell can be found at: protectourwinters.org/newell-2890
Protect Our Winters (POW) is the environmental center point of the winter sports community, united together towards a common goal of reducing climate change’s effects on our sport and mountain economies. Founded in 2007, POW re-invests contributions in educational initiatives, advocacy and supporting community-based initiatives. For more information, visit http://www.protectourwinters.org.