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Low carbon skiing

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
With the big climate conference taking place in Glasgow this November I wonder if there is such a thing as ‘low carbon’ skiing?

Clearly Back country touring is very low or zero carbon but what about our primary interest on this forum; lift served downhill?

Is low carbon alpine skiing possible? What are the key factors? Could it be marketed ?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
No. Skiing on lift served hills is, and always will be, carbon positive.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Less grooming would be a start. Wink

telford_mike wrote:
No. Skiing on lift served hills is, and always will be, carbon positive.

"Positive" can still be "low" positive.
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Train to Paris, train to Grenoble, bus to La Grave, self cater so that you can keep your diet relatively low carbon. You will contribute to a small amount of nuclear waste but not much else.

Snowmaking isn't great for the environment and La Grave avoids that. Cutting trees down for pistes not great either, again a win for La Grave here compared to others. You can't really count the trees that have been lost as a sunk cost either as they would grow back if people stopped using the pistes. Davidof posted some good photos a while a ago of an abandoned ski resort where the pistes were slowly disappearing beneath new growth. Final win for La Grave, minimal piste bashing and the associated diesel savings. Of course, La Grave is a bit of niche proposition compared to the 3V/EK/Les Arcs but that is what environmentall friendly, or at least friendlier, skiing looks like. Just don't end up needing a heli to rescue you as that will blow your carbon allowance for the holiday very quickly

In pure terms of CO2 emissions, for people from the UK, travel to and from resort is bar the biggest emitter* and using the train does offer a significant reduction compared to flying*. For most people, this is the biggest change that they will contemplate

Just whatever you do, don't go to Germany where the lifts are essentially coal powered

*https://www.snowcarbon.co.uk/why-go-train
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
By the time you add in the manufacturing of ones boots, skis, bindings, clothing and other equipment this is not going to end well.
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Thinking about it the Scottish ski centres not far from Glasgow are about as low carbon as dowhhill skiing gets.

They are at the opposite end of the spectrum from the large interconnected alpine resorts. Their customers don’t need to fly to get there. They haven’t required the development of purpose built seasonal villages and don’t generate large amounts of waste or light. They don’t have large snow making infrastructure or fleets of piste bashers.

Their lifts are primarily elderly, low powered tows that use minimal amounts of electricity and then only when there is sufficient snow and sufficient demand to run them. Their slopes have not been extensively bulldozed and ultimately, with the notable exception of the Cairngorm funicular, when climate change eventually means the end of commercial skiing, their infrastructure will be reversible and recyclable without significant further pollution.
Perhaps they are missing a trick and should sell themselves as low carbon snowHead
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@spyderjon, Your equipment needn’t be more sufficiently environmentally damaging to really be a concern. Boots are made predominantly from plastic which per kg has a much lower carbon footprint than steel or aluminum. They last a long time as well, I’m still on pair from 2009, not because I’m trying to be particularly virtuous, but because they still work fine. If you get a shell jacket* then this can double as a UK rain coat. Mine is a bit too heavy for this but my OH finds hers really comfortable for general use and it starts getting a bit ridiculous when you start complaining about people owning a coat. Ski wax can be quite damaging to the environment, but you can now use phantom glide treatment and in theory this should get rid of that problem. Skis/bindings do have a bit more of an environmental footprint due to their high metal content but providing that you’re not frequently buying new ones then it’s not a lot in the grand scheme of things.

I would be quite surprised if my equipment ownership made up more than a negligible percentage of my yearly environmental footprint and it becomes quite unhelpful when people start complaining about the trivial stuff as it distracts from the activities which are actually damaging, flying/eating meat/driving/needless consumerism/gas CH etc etc

*There are worries about Goretex type jackets leaching PFAS into the environment which isn’t great but many newer models no longer have use them. Is it better to bin my perfectly functional jacket which probably uses PFAS as it is not a recent model and buy a new one that is PFAS free, or keep using this one? Who knows, it is getting a bit too much to worry about at this point
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Most of my local ski areas are a walk up after a hour or so drive from town. Couple of crappy old rope tows and the electricity would be hydro generated. Most of the infrastructure would have been carried up there by super keen hard men a few decades ago. No grooming either.

Guessing if I snowboard naked and avoid the gore tex pollution then it would be very low carbon. Will give it a shot tomorrow and claim to be woke and have a bit of a cry if ski patrol have anything to say about it Happy
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LOL
Its like claiming you are going on a diet by only putting 1 sugar in your tea instead of 2

no doubt the twonks will claim to be offsetting carbon elsewhere & moving it to their ski trip & claim it is carbon free.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Fri 17-09-21 8:15; edited 1 time in total
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Peter S wrote:


Clearly Back country touring is very low or zero carbon but what about our primary interest on this forum; lift served downhill?



is it? I doubt it is that low carbon at all.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Contraception?
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Already discussed earlier this year:

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=4782985
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Peter S wrote:
With the big climate conference taking place in Glasgow this November I wonder if there is such a thing as ‘low carbon’ skiing?

Clearly Back country touring is very low or zero carbon but what about our primary interest on this forum; lift served downhill?

Is low carbon alpine skiing possible? What are the key factors? Could it be marketed ?


Apparently 57% of the carbon footprint of the skiing industry is caused by the travel to get there, as almost everyone goes by shorthaul plane. Getting the train reduces this part of the carbon footprint by up to 90%. A full car can reduced it by about 2/3rd IIRC.

That's probably the single biggest change you can make. Most of France is powered by nuclear, and that is a different debate.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I second that although the figures that were shared in the sustainability session at Ski Launch this week showed nearer to 70% or more of footprint is travel. Look at the slides from Max Smith of Montagne Verte here: https://www.slideshare.net/iainmartinski/ski-launch-2021-session-2-presentations

In relation to carbon free/net zero skiing, lifts can be powered wholly from sustainable sources (e.g. in Les Arcs). re clothing, Picture Clothing have aspiration to make a carbon neutral jacket. As unlikely as that may seem to can listen to the rationale towards the end of my interview with their sustainability manager here: https://audioboom.com/posts/7719134-a-ski-podcast-special-picture-organic-clothing
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
spyderjon wrote:
This is not going to end well.


Correct! There really isn't an aspect of our sport that does not leave tracks.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Scooter in Seattle wrote:
spyderjon wrote:
This is not going to end well.


Correct! There really isn't an aspect of our sport that does not leave tracks.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to minimise the impact of those tracks though.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
iainm wrote:
I second that although the figures that were shared in the sustainability session at Ski Launch this week showed nearer to 70% or more of footprint is travel. Look at the slides from Max Smith of Montagne Verte here: https://www.slideshare.net/iainmartinski/ski-launch-2021-session-2-presentations

In relation to carbon free/net zero skiing, lifts can be powered wholly from sustainable sources (e.g. in Les Arcs). re clothing, Picture Clothing have aspiration to make a carbon neutral jacket. As unlikely as that may seem to can listen to the rationale towards the end of my interview with their sustainability manager here: https://audioboom.com/posts/7719134-a-ski-podcast-special-picture-organic-clothing


I initially put 70% as I had that figure in my head, but I lifted 57% from the snowcarbon website. Even more reason to go by train then.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Mr.Egg wrote:
LOL
Its like claiming you are going on a diet by only putting 1 sugar in your tea instead of 2

no doubt the twonks will claim to be offsetting carbon elsewhere & moving it to their ski trip & claim it is carbon free.

CAWT.

Claiming skiing holidays are in some way 'carbon friendly' (WTF is that anyway) is just laughable.
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king key wrote:
Mr.Egg wrote:
LOL
Its like claiming you are going on a diet by only putting 1 sugar in your tea instead of 2

no doubt the twonks will claim to be offsetting carbon elsewhere & moving it to their ski trip & claim it is carbon free.

CAWT.

Claiming skiing holidays are in some way 'carbon friendly' (WTF is that anyway) is just laughable.


Literally nobody is claiming that “skiing holidays are carbon friendly”.

It IS possible to make them less carbon bad though. It would take some mammoth ignorance to claim otherwise.
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@Timmycb5, while you are correct that it is possible to make skiing holidays more carbon friendly, I believe you miss my point and that of others, which is: such efforts are pretty trivial compared to the damage most of us do. Me turning off the lights and keeping my foot out of the engine bay will help, but my flying over the pond absolutely crushes such efforts into irrelevance. Even skinning up means four hours of driving. And that's just the transport piece. You want to talk about micro plastics in the oceans, from us washing our fleece ski clothes?

So, let's be honest: our sport is not great for the environment. There's stuff we can do to help, and we should do it--on that we agree. But it isn't enough, not even close.
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Scooter in Seattle wrote:
But it isn't enough, not even close.

How do you know what is enough? And enough for what?

It's like saying to someone who is obese that unless they eat the perfect diet it won't be enough.
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Scooter in Seattle wrote:
@Timmycb5, while you are correct that it is possible to make skiing holidays more carbon friendly, I believe you miss my point and that of others, which is: such efforts are pretty trivial compared to the damage most of us do. Me turning off the lights and keeping my foot out of the engine bay will help, but my flying over the pond absolutely crushes such efforts into irrelevance. Even skinning up means four hours of driving. And that's just the transport piece. You want to talk about micro plastics in the oceans, from us washing our fleece ski clothes?

So, let's be honest: our sport is not great for the environment. There's stuff we can do to help, and we should do it--on that we agree. But it isn't enough, not even close.

But it's not "our sport".

Your point is, the travel part of our sport is the most carbon emitting part. That's true. But there're plenty of travel outside of skiing! Besides, planes fly whether you sit in the plane or not. It takes the majority of the skiers not flying to stop a plane from taking off.

You'll also have to stop flying to beach resorts in the warm climates too. Where does that stop?

Oh right, Brexit will curtail that! rolling eyes (sorry, can't resist)
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Scooter in Seattle wrote:
@Timmycb5, while you are correct that it is possible to make skiing holidays more carbon friendly, I believe you miss my point and that of others, which is: such efforts are pretty trivial compared to the damage most of us do. Me turning off the lights and keeping my foot out of the engine bay will help, but my flying over the pond absolutely crushes such efforts into irrelevance. Even skinning up means four hours of driving. And that's just the transport piece. You want to talk about micro plastics in the oceans, from us washing our fleece ski clothes?

So, let's be honest: our sport is not great for the environment. There's stuff we can do to help, and we should do it--on that we agree. But it isn't enough, not even close.


Rubbish
Every tree cut for new tracks or lift being installed is for everyone who participates on the slopes.
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@Layne, I'm not sure anyone knows what "enough" is. But I'm pretty sure it means "don't ski". And I'm not a good enough person to do that. I try to strike a balance and I'm pretty sure I don't get there. In your example the obese person should still try to get smaller, but unless they make major changes their progress will be scant. The success rate of dieters bears this out.

@abc, travel to the snow is an inseparable element of our sport, except for the lucky few who live in snow country. We can only control our own travel, and our own carbon emissions. The argument that the plane is gonna go whether we're on it or not is specious. As you correctly suggested, if enough folks decide to not fly, there will be fewer flights.
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The largest carbon cost for a UK based skier is the journey to & from the resort, so the easiest way to reduce the carbon cost per day's skiing is to go for the season. snowHead
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@Kenzie, I like your thinking Very Happy
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Scooter in Seattle wrote:
... travel to the snow is an inseparable element of our sport, except for the lucky few who live in snow country. We can only control our own travel, and our own carbon emissions. The argument that the plane is gonna go whether we're on it or not is specious. As you correctly suggested, if enough folks decide to not fly, there will be fewer flights.
I don't disagree with that, but if you don't have kids, then you have removed the carbon emissions they would cause plus that of all their descendants - an enormous benefit to the planet. All this other stuff seems rather trivial in comparison - your children will always produce some carbon, and they will likely reproduce too.

It just seems to me that sex without protection is more of a problem for the planet than a bit of skiing.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Back on topic, here is an interesting interview with Tom Gellie and a US bootfitter which covers a range of topics but the renewables and carbon footprint aspect is focussed on.


http://youtube.com/v/Ke6SkVwd8QI
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You know it makes sense.
@Scooter in Seattle, I don’t think reducing the carbon footprint of my skiing trip by 63% by simply taking the train as “trivial”. I’ve basically cut my CO2 impact by 2/3rds. That is massive.

It won’t make skiing environmentally friendly on its own, but it is definitely a start.

@abc, I don’t agree that it takes the majority of skiers to stop flying to make difference. Ski resorts have a finite capacity, so you’d assume everyone that intends to go skiing does. If 200 people each week chose to get the train each week, that would eventually lead to one flight being scrapped.

As for non skiing flights. I’ve flown 3 times for non skiing holidays in the last 17 years. It’s not a requirement to have a nice holiday.

@Kenzie, that is the best solution I think.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Timmycb5 wrote:

As for non skiing flights. I’ve flown 3 times for non skiing holidays in the last 17 years. It’s not a requirement to have a nice holiday.

That's just you. Many others do the opposite.

Before I started skiing in earnest, I flew to warmer climate twice each winter, Christmas and sometime in the middle of winter. Now, I merely replace the two trips to warmer climate with 2 trips to the mountain to ski.

My point, skiing isn't the problem, flying is. But flying isn't unique to skiing.

Frankly, i think travel is by and large beneficial. So whether it's for skiing or for the beach, it's worth the carbon emission! Granted, you don't have to go to the beach or the mountain by plane. But that's a logistic option some have while others don't. So by all means take the train when it's practical. But I wouldn't make a big fuss about it when I do, or when others don't.
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@abc, who’s making a big fuss? Someone asked the question of how to reduce their personal CO2 cost of skiing, some posted fact based ideas. Others again have said you can’t make skiing 100% environmentally friendly so you shouldn’t bother trying to do anything.

Nobody is saying planes should be banned or telling others that they should fly. We’re not vegans FFS!

And yes, flying isn’t unique to skiing, but this is a skiing forum snowHead
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Persuading all of us to reduce our overall carbon budget (including travel, food, consumer goods, holidays purchase) even by only say 10% can only be beneficial.

The best, but probably totally impractical, solution would be if we could all somehow have a personal carbon budget that we could choose how to spend. So you could choose each year between say taking 2 flights OR driving a petrol/diesel car more than 5000 miles OR spending more than £x on heating your home OR owning a dog OR .... (probably nowhere near equivalents, but you get the idea).
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
ecureuil wrote:
Persuading all of us to reduce our overall carbon budget (including travel, food, consumer goods, holidays purchase) even by only say 10% can only be beneficial.

The best, but probably totally impractical, solution would be if we could all somehow have a personal carbon budget that we could choose how to spend. So you could choose each year between say taking 2 flights OR driving a petrol/diesel car more than 5000 miles OR spending more than £x on heating your home OR owning a dog OR .... (probably nowhere near equivalents, but you get the idea).

That's the idea behind cap-n-trade. But I haven't heard much of it lately so don't know its fate.

The idea is indeed everyone (business being another "entity") that gets a carbon "budget". You get to emit that amount of CO2 for free. But if you need to take more flight or drive more, you can "buy" it with real money! So those who choose to be childless and pet less can travel as they like, or sell their excess carbon quota.
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@abc, I am not sure how you could credit someone for not having a pet, or children. It is a bit like no one paying me the money I "save" by not having a Ferrari.

But clearly if everyone reduced their carbon generation by 10% that would be better than just moaning that we can't go CO2-free. Even there though, quite a lot is out of our hands. The source of the electricity we use is not under our individual control, but there is at least a move towards low carbon sources. On topic, going skiing people would be more easily tempted away from flying if there were a choice of attractive rail alternatives.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@j b, I'd even be persuaded against driving with a suitable rail alternative. I don't need to cart skis and boots with me, but do have 2 dogs. BUt I guess that means I won't have the 'carbon budget' to do so if @abc, is planning my future.
Currently, although UK trains and French ones all take dogs, Eurostar doesn't, and ferry companies and Eurotunnel don't take dogs if you are a foot passenger.
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As some have said - IMO once you have decided to show skiing then its going to have a massive impact, yes you can do some things more sensible than others but whether it will actually make a difference is questionable. Remember if the UK produced no carbon at all within 2 weeks China will have produced as much carbon as we would have produced in that whole year!
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j b wrote:
I am not sure how you could credit someone for not having a pet, or children.


That's not the same: Having a pet is a hobby, like skiing. Children on the other hand are, as Kant put it, ends in themselves. Therefore, if you think in emission budgets, they got their own ones. Ya know, they are like real human beings. Just smaller.

Rob_Quads wrote:
As some have said - IMO once you have decided to show skiing then its going to have a massive impact, yes you can do some things more sensible than others but whether it will actually make a difference is questionable.


Sorry, but this is just not true!

Skiing in itself isn't very polluting. Studies show that 70-80% of CO2 emissions are caused by travel alone. Lifts, grooming and snow making only account for 5-8%. The rest is on accommodation, restaurants, etc. Considering the last point, a small appartement in a big building is of course much better than a fancy hotel with spa...

London-Geneva is about 660ms/1,000km. Flying there and back as a family of four puts out about 1500kg CO2. Which would allow me to drive our old Diesel estate for about 6600ms/10,000km.

Bottom line: Above all DO NOT FLY!
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
People need to stop thinking in absolutes. Make considered decisions and within reason do everything you can.


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Tue 21-09-21 11:58; edited 1 time in total
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Tristero wrote:

London-Geneva is about 660ms/1,000km. Flying there and back as a family of four puts out about 1500kg CO2. Which would allow me to drive our old Diesel estate for about 6600ms/10,000km.


That looks very high to me. https://www.carbonindependent.org/22.html (which is ecologically-biased, rather than industry-biased) suggests 115g/passenger km for an older 737-400 at 65% load factor. Pre COVID, I can't recall ever being on a sub-85% load factor aircraft, so adjusting for that, its 90g/passenger km. For a more modern aircraft (e.g. an A320-neo) it will be materially lower.

That makes it 720kg (i.e. half your estimate), so you could drive 5,000km instead of flying 2,000km. If there's only 2 people in your car, you might as well fly.
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@snowdave,
Don't forget to factor in transfers to & from airports both in UK & country being visited.
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