Statement by Rainforest Action Network on the Devastating Climate Impacts of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

On September 18, Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizers will converge at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to attend a meeting with the UNFCCC and other signatories of the Sports for Climate Action Framework. To mark this occasion, Rainforest Action Network issued the following statement regarding Tokyo 2020’s devastating impacts on the climate:

“Tokyo 2020 has been using a tremendous amount of rainforest wood for construction of its new sports venues, at the cost of the climate, global biodiversity, and the livelihoods of local communities and Indigenous Peoples who depend on the forests. Tokyo 2020’s exploitation of rainforests has been completely antithetical to their support for climate action.

As a founding signatory of the Climate Action Initiative, Tokyo 2020 has committed to reduce its overall climate impact and promote sustainable and responsible consumption, among others. However, as of May 31st of this year, Tokyo 2020 organizers had used at least 210,400 large sheets of tropical plywood sourced from the tropical rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia in order to construct the new National Stadium and other iconic Olympic venues. A significant proportion of this wood derived from the conversion of tropical rainforests into oil palm and other plantations as well as coal mines.

The recent IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land found that 23% of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (2007-2016) derived from Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Uses, and that emissions from tropical deforestation was a major contributor to this. The report also found that tropical rainforests have significant impacts on local and regional temperatures and rainfall, by diminishing heat extremes for example, which is critical for minimizing the incidence of wildfires that are becoming more prevalent today.

Regrettably, Tokyo 2020 has failed to recognize the climate impacts resulting from their unsustainable exploitation of rainforest wood. Significant amounts of paper and palm oil-ladened snack foods and instant noodles linked to rainforest conversion can be expected to not only be consumed during the Olympics Games in 2020, but also sold by Olympic sponsor companies as Olympic licenced goods, further harming our climate. We therefore demand Tokyo 2020 to recognize that the continued use of unsustainable rainforest wood and rainforest-derived products are detrimental to the climate, and to commit to avoid their use unless full traceability back to the forest is established, and a credible third party has concluded that no material is associated with rainforest or peatland destruction, illegal logging, or human rights violations.”