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Volume 26 No. 175
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World Surf League Aims To Become Carbon Neutral By End Of Year

World Surf League will become “carbon neutral” by the end of the year, promising to pay for environmental projects to counteract the extensive emissions its employees and athletes generate during their global tour. The WSL also will cut back on event production at stops with low attendance, cut disposable plastic and change its business structure to reduce executive travel, execs said. Carbon neutrality is a tall order at WSL, whose '19 championship tour touches all six continents and remote Tahiti over 11 stops. Staff and athletes in '18 took 6,300 fights, accounting for 97% of its emissions. The carbon offsets and other initiatives are a significant expense, but business efficiencies will cut costs over time, and CEO Sophie Goldschmidt says they believe the environmental projects can generate sponsorship revenue as well. The WSL has attempted to make ocean conservation a key pillar of its identity. “From a business angle, we think brands will respond when they see how authentic and real we are about these commitments,” Goldschmidt said. She continued, “It’s really important, and I think we’re getting ahead of it, and making ourselves even more appealing to the next generation of consumers."

ABOVE & BEYOND: The projects WSL will contribute include a peat swamp forest in Borneo that fights deforestation from mining and palm oil operations; a wind farm in Brazil that powers 400,000 homes and nearby ceramic factories that run on biomass fuel; a wilderness conservation in Kenya; and a protected redwood forest in Medicino County, Calif. The WSL will regionalize operations, requiring fewer senior staff to attend every event. Also, it will cut back on live event production at stops where it is difficult for people to attend. Tahiti, for instance, features waves that break a quarter mile from shore; in places like that, they will focus their spending on broadcast production and shift to a smaller event footprint because it is not audience-friendly. Finally, it will eliminate single-use plastic at its major tour stops. WSL developed its program with help from environmental nonprofit STOKE (Sustainable Tourism & Outdoors Kit for Evaluation).