Sports

FIS accuses POW petition of deliberately misleading the public using false information

'POW has engaged in a public campaign with a petition that serves only to splinter the winter sports community rather than unite it.'

The International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) has released a statement categorically refuting claims made in a petition started by Protect our Winters (POW). The Petition accuses FIS of scheduling races far too early in the season and of doing far too little to be the climate leader we need at this critical time. The petition cites pictures of excavator shovels digging into the Theodul Glacier in Zermatt and alleges this alteration to the glacier is to prepare the slopes for FIS’s early season World Cup ski races.

POW shared in a statement on social media “When we saw photos of excavators digging into the Theodul glacier in Zermatt and bulldozers destroying glacier ice in Solden, it became crystal clear: This cannot continue. Going to such extremes just to prepare slopes for the early season @FISalpine World Cup ski? Absolutely not!”

The statement from FIS in response to the petition opens by saying that “FIS has put sustainability at the forefront of all its actions, with the FIS Strategic Plan we are very clear on our commitment towards climate action.” And it labels the POW petition as a “shallow and attention-grabbing campaign”.

FIS also cites inaccuracy of the imagery used as the foundation of the petition saying the image of excavators digging into the Theodul glacier in Zermatt “was not taken in recent times but in the year 2019 from WWF Austria. This picture doesn’t even show the Rettenbach Glacier/Sölden or the Theodul Glacier/Zermatt but the Pitztal Glacier and therefore has absolutely no connection to the FIS Alpine World Cup. In this case there is no doubt that you are trying to incite hostility towards FIS by deliberately misleading the public using false information. We must inform you that such conduct is unethical and we ask you to correct that with immediate effect.”

The photographer of the image in question Vincent Sufiyan confirmed with TownLift that “the photo was taken in autumn 2019 on the Pitztal Glacier in Tyrol/Austria and shows the preparation works for the skiing season”.

The image in question has been replaced on the POW petition website since first being published as show below.

The image FIS claims POW intentionally misrepresented and the photographer The photographer Vincent Sufiyan confirmed with TownLift that the photo was taken in autumn 2019 on the Pitztal Glacier in Tyrol/Austria.
The image FIS claims POW intentionally misrepresented and the photographer Vincent Sufiyan confirmed with TownLift the photo was taken in autumn 2019 on the Pitztal Glacier in Tyrol/Austria. Photo: Vincent Sufiyan

FIS goes on to say “Given the urgency of the challenge we face, anyone in the snow sports world who cares about the perils of climate change should not focus on attention-seeking stunts but on finding real long-term solutions. FIS, at least, will continue to act in this spirit.” and that “POW has engaged in a public campaign with a petition that serves only to splinter the winter sports community rather than unite it.”

Key Climate Action steps FIS says it is taking:

  • FIS is a signatory of the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, committing to a 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.
  • They are developing a sustainability plan focused on data collection during the upcoming winter season to estimate their CO2 footprint accurately.
  • FIS is shifting its focus to calculate emissions within their operational control, allowing for direct reductions through a CO2 reduction plan.
  • The start of the season has been delayed by one week, with ongoing monitoring to potentially delay it further in alignment with their Strategic Plan.
  • FIS is raising awareness among National Associations on emissions reduction and environmental impact reduction while developing guidelines for event organizers.
  • They aim to strengthen partnerships with other Sport Federations and NGOs working on sustainability issues, aligning with SDGS goal 17.
  • FIS has hired Sustainability Director Susanna Sieff, a recognized expert in the field.
  • FIS supports the use of offsets to combat climate change and is involved in the FIS Rainforest Initiative, supporting indigenous communities and deforestation avoidance projects, aligning with UN Climate Change conference declarations.

The petition currently has 28,270 signatures.

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