Jet-setting players aim to slash carbon emissions

Updated: December 7, 2007, 5:20 PM ET
Reuters

TORONTO -- With 30 teams crisscrossing North America throughout the 82-game season, the National Hockey League takes its toll on the environment.

That's 750 players, along with their trainers, coaches and equipment, packed into fuel-burning aircraft from October until the Stanley Cup is finally awarded in June.

The David Suzuki Foundation, a prominent Canadian environmental group, calculated that each player generates about 10 tons of carbon emissions annually, the bulk of it coming from air travel but also from driving between airports and arenas in Canada and United States.

So the NHL Players' Association said on Friday it had struck a partnership with the foundation in a pledge to offset greenhouse gases emissions, the main contributors to climate change.

"It's important, as high-profile athletes, to use our platform to deliver a message of environmental responsibility and accountability," Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said in a statement. "Hopefully this will inspire our fans to follow suit."

Alberta-born Ference, 28, met Canadian environment guru David Suzuki last year to begin crafting the green plan and is now asking his colleagues to donate $290 each -- based on $29 per ton of emissions -- to go carbon-neutral.

So far, nearly half the league's players have volunteered to purchase carbon credits to offset their carbon footprint.

The cash goes to Planet Air, a Montreal-based non-profit group that will distribute the cash to clean-energy projects in India, Indonesia and Madagascar.

The credits are considered "gold standard," the groups said, and will help develop hydroelectric, biomass and wind power projects in the Asian and African countries.

"There's no way the players can not fly to their games, so they're investing in a project that will have a positive impact somewhere else," said Paul Lingl of the David Suzuki Foundation.

"It's more the symbolism of the players taking responsibility for climate change and making it more mainstream," Lingl said.