New owner of Whistler Blackcomb commits to zero carbon footprint by 2030
Published Friday, July 28, 2017 3:33PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, July 29, 2017 3:47PM PDT
North America’s largest ski resort operator is promising to eliminate its carbon footprint by 2030, but some environmental advocates are questioning the project’s ambitious timeline.
Vail Resorts announced on Wednesday it “intends to go beyond setting a partial emissions reduction target by executing on a more expansive and ambitious plan” inspired by the company’s recent takeover of B.C.’s Whistler Blackcomb resort.
“Everything we do at Vail Resorts is driven by the spectacular natural surroundings where our employees, guests and communities live, work and play,” CEO Rob Katz said in a news release. “The environment is our business, and we have a special obligation to protect it.”
Whistler Blackcomb has had an environmental sustainability plan since 1999. Since 2000, the resort has reduced its waste by more than 70 per cent. In the last 10 years, it has saved enough electricity to power 1,400 homes for a year as part of its “zero waste, zero carbon, zero net emissions” policy.
“We've been working on this for over a decade,” said Arthur Dejong, environmental resource manager for the resort. “Now we have a lot further to go.”
Vail’s “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint” includes reducing emergency consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the amount of waste resorts produce and offsetting the impact to forests and wildlife habitats.
Key highlights of the 13-year environmental sustainability plan include:
- Reducing the company’s energy consumption by 15 per cent
- Switching to 100 per cent renewable electrical energy sources
- Diverting 100 per cent of waste away from landfills to by ramping up recycling and composting efforts
- Increase the environmental awareness of guests and employees
- Planting or restoring an acre of forest for every acre displaced by the company’s operations
There is no set price tag on the project.
Environmental activists say they welcome the announcement, but some are questioning how attainable these goals are within the timeline the company has set for itself.
“They’ve set some very, very ambitious goals, but what’s key here is that they’ve set goals,” said John Werring, a policy adviser with the David Suzuki Foundation. “It’s really heartening to see a company like this step forward and raise the bar for action by corporations to help protect the environment.”
Werring said he’s particularly concerned about Vail’s zero net emissions policy which involves reducing natural gas and electricity use by 15 per cent by 2030 and net emissions by 50 per cent by 2025.
“They might not achieve them all in the end, but if they at least get half way there, that would be a good thing,” Werring said, adding that the foundation would like to see Vail provide regular updates even if its environmental protection initiatives are behind schedule.
The Colorado-based company operates 14 resorts and ski areas worldwide. In August of 2016, Vail bought the Whistler Blackcomb resort for $1.4 billion.
The announcement comes amid growing tensions between U.S. environmental activists and the federal government over President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.
Vail has joined more than 1,200 politicians and businesses across the country that have signed and open letter signaling their continued commitment to the international accord, which sets out common climate change reduction goals for nearly 200 countries.
With files from CTV Vancouver’s David Molko