The Austrian Tirol ski resort of Ischgl marks the New Year by being hailed the largest climate-neutral ski resort in the Alps - and it has the award to prove it.
'The message is Think Globally, Act Locally. And while everyone talks about climate change, Ischgl is doing something about it,' said Paznaun-Ischgl Tourist Director Andreas Steibl.
'Ischgl has implemented environmental measures to reduce CO2 emissions throughout its ski area, including at the many alpine huts and taverns.'
The Paznaun-Ischgl lift company Silvrettaseilbahn AG is equally committed to offsetting all unavoidable carbon emissions through an internationally recognised climate protection project as well as a reforestation programme in the local valley - and from this season all ski lifts are powered almost entirely by renewable energy, mainly from hydropower stations.
In addition, solar and heat recovery systems in the region will save an estimated 80,000 litres of heating oil - the equivalent of 244 tonnes of CO2 per year.
The recently opened Ischgl Slope Food restaurant and the Gampenbahn bottom lift station are heated by geothermal energy.
Snowmaking and grooming equipment are all part of the sustainable resort concept - all snow groomers are equipped with GPS technology to determine accurate snow depth measurement, ensuring snow cannon generate snow only where it is needed. This saves the electricity and water required for snow production, as well as snow groomer hours, saving a further 150 tonnes of CO2 per year.
The region has also made a significant investment in the ski bus network to reduce car traffic in Paznaun, further reducing CO2 emissions. Last but not least, more than 10,000 trees have been planted around Ischgl in recent years.
These achievements have been recognised by ClimatePartner, the German-based leading experts for climate protection solutions, with a prestigious Climate-Neutral Certificate.
The ski lift company also contributes to a reforestation programme in Peru. CEO Günther Zangerl said: 'We feel it is important that our alpine homeland, in particular our forests, which are vital to protecting our environment and provide a habitat for numerous fauna and flora, also benefit from our commitment. This local programme is the perfect complement to the certified reforestation project in Peru.'
Ischgl is committed to further reducing CO2 emissions. The new Silvretta Spa, due to open at the end of 2022, will be heated mainly by geothermal energy. Ischgl also plans to purchase hybrid snow groomers, which have a 20 per cent lower fuel consumption compared to conventional machines.
Ischgl's Silvretta Arena, which includes extensive cross-border skiing into Switzerland, comprises 238kms of perfectly groomed piste and 44 state-of-the-art skilifts. The five month long season is opened and closed by big name open-air concerts. This winter was opened on 30 November 2019 by Berlin-based cult band Seeed and will close on 3 May 2020, the day after the season-ending Top Of The Mountain concert by Italian pop-rock icon Eros Ramazzotti.