Using Technology and Collaboration to Deliver a Low-Carbon Legacy

What do Dow scientists, Brazilian ranchers and packaging manufacturers across Latin America have in common with the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games? They were all part of an unprecedented cross-sector collaboration that helped the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee fulfill its commitment to host a global event with minimal carbon impact while also introducing more sustainable business practices to the region.

“Dow’s partnership with the Olympic Movement enables us to use the platform of sport and the Olympic Rings to demonstrate how our science and technologies can advance the adoption of lower-carbon solutions,” explains Louis A. Vega, Dow global vice president of Olympic & Sports Solutions. “The Rio 2016 Olympic Games provided us with a unique opportunity to start a new dialogue and collaborate with industry leaders within the region to introduce solutions that will benefit generations to come.”

A new study from Duke University’s Nicolas School of the Environment suggests that adopting new climate-friendly technologies could potentially slow down global warming – but the adoption rate needs to accelerate rapidly in order to meet global climate change goals. The United Nations has set a target to limit global average temperature rise. Meeting this goal requires worldwide reductions in GHG emissions of 40 to 70 percent by 2050 through a collaborative effort among all nations, involving governments, businesses and consumers.

Building on the successful implementation of the “Sustainable Future” program that enabled the mitigation of the direct carbon footprint of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee, Dow was selected as the Official Carbon Partner of Rio 2016 and developed a portfolio of projects in the areas of agriculture, industry and infrastructure. By Opening Day, the program already had delivered 100,000 tonnes of third-party verified greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions and is projected to deliver more than 2 million tonnes of verified GHG reductions by 2026.

“By combining the power of sport and science, the Rio 2016 Carbon Program is using the Games to catalyze both economic growth and emissions reductions,” says Nicoletta Piccolrovazzi, Dow Olympic and Sports Solutions’ global technology and sustainability director. “Before the Games, we worked on the ground with local teams to get an understanding of the local market environment and where there were opportunities to increase awareness and adoption of energy-efficient and low-carbon technologies in the region. In the end, our projects must push for innovation, overcome real or perceived barriers and catalyze long-term change in market practices.”

Just as work on the program began well before the Games, it continued after the Closing Ceremony too.

“This is a legacy program,” Piccolrovazzi adds. “After the Games finished, we continued to monitor the projects and results continue to be delivered. One of the programs, for instance, on energy efficiency in the construction value chain engaged hundreds of people – from architects to specifiers to contractors – in different seminars. We are going to do a follow-up seminar soon. The dialogue is still very much alive in Brazil.”

What was done with the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio is an example of how organizations can use existing science and technology to take action to meet commitments to reduce carbon emissions. The program, developed by Dow, delivers long-lasting climate benefits to the region and supports the key areas of focus for reducing GHG emissions outlined by Brazil’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

Rio 2016 Carbon Mitigation Project Overview

Dow and Rio 2106 implemented eight carbon mitigation projects across Latin America targeting critical growth industries.

Read more about Dow’s carbon mitigation program.