Winter sports are financed by big polluters

A new report found that winter sports, such as skiing, are sponsored by companies that are big polluters, which “are melting the future of the very sports they sponsor” through their broadcasts.

Climate polluters pour money into winter sports

Titled Snow Thieves, it aims to highlight the irony of winter sports accepting sponsorship from organizations that threaten their ability to function in the future.

The document, authored by campaign group Badvertising and think tank New Weather Sweden, identified 107 different company sponsorship deals with ski organisations, event organisers, teams and individual athletes.

Among the companies are automakers, led by Audi, fossil fuel companies and airlines. The most active are agreements with car manufacturers, with a total of 83 sponsorship agreements, of which 54 correspond to Audi.

Sports sponsorships are important for companies with damaged reputations

The report indicates that companies “have created an entire market around sports sponsorship.” Because? Researchers indicate that marketing agencies and consultants tell companies that “sports sponsorship is the most effective way to market your brand,” creating emotional engagement with consumers and driving sales. And, specifically, that sports sponsorships are important for companies with damaged reputations.

“The directors of oil companies, car manufacturers and airlines know that they need the support of the public to continue their business. Losing the support of the community is your number one business risk. Instead of changing their business, they fight with all their might to protect the business through public relations, marketing, and sponsorships,” the report states.

And winter sports, particularly, enjoy popularity in views and favourability. “Studies show that winter sports fans are more involved and that there are fewer negative attitudes towards sponsors of winter sports than towards sponsors of other sports,” the report states. 

Sports ended tobacco sponsorship for health reasons

“Sports ended tobacco sponsorship for health reasons, it has to do the same for big pollutants, not just to protect athletes, the planet and the public, but the future of the sport,” said Andrew Simms, of Badvertising in a statement.

Estemes, skiers urged the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) to take action on the climate crisis. One of his requests was to establish a more “geographically reasonable” racing calendar to reduce carbon emissions from flights.

Andrew Simms of Badvertising said: “Sport has ended tobacco sponsorship over health concerns, it must do the same for major polluters, not only to protect athletes, the planet and the public, but also the future of sports”.

This month top skiers urged the FIS to take action on the climate crisis. One request was for a more “geographically reasonable” race schedule to reduce carbon emissions from flights. This season, the men’s competitors will have travelled from Europe to North America and back twice.

In 2022, Tennis Australia ended its sponsorship deal with oil and gas company Santos, following a campaign that accused the company of “sports laundering”.

Artificial snow as global warming progresses

A recent study from 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 cover in Europe in March and April decreased by 13% on average and by 76% in June.

And given the large amount of water needed to make snow, between now and the end of the century, the resorts’ water consumption is expected to increase by 80%, to 540 million liters compared to 300 million liters are currently used.

Last year’s COP27 summit in Egypt, for example, was sponsored by Coca-Cola. According to a report, the world’s largest soft drink company, already known for its excessive use of plastic, increased its use of non-recycled plastic in the year leading up to the conference.


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