White Caps, Green Initiatives: Val d’Isère is open.
Despite a weeklong delay, the ski season at l’Espace Killy was officially opened last weekend with Val d’Isère’s First Tracks weekend kicking off the action. The Christmas season is upon us, and Val d’Isère will be busy with all sorts of festive fun as we head towards the new year.
As of this week, snow cover is looking very healthy – with a solid 30cm coverage on the bottom slopes near the Val d’Isère village – but 2022 has become yet another year in which a lack of early snowfall has impacted the ski season. There’s no doubt that climate change is continuing to affect ski resorts all over Europe, with the lower resorts finding it more difficult to function, due to unnaturally high average temperatures and a lack of snowfall.
Climate change is impossible to ignore. Ski resorts and holiday operators have really started to turn their attention to their ecological impacts, and to how they can help to limit their emissions. At Consensio, we were proud to release our climate report in partnership with Ecollective earlier this year, which commits us to monitoring our CO2 emissions – especially from our Ultimate Catered Chalets and Relaxed Catered Chalets – and to making concrete steps towards hitting Net Zero by 2035.
As one of the world’s most popular ski destinations, Val d’Isère is also taking responsibility for its environmental impact. Along with a collective of other French resorts, Val d’Isère is committing to Net Zero by 2030 and is taking several ambitious steps to meet that goal.
We’ve already seen a few eco-friendly initiatives take hold in Val d’Isère; its ski lifts now run mostly on green electricity, which is a trend it aims to build upon in the future. One of the most exciting developments, however, is being introduced this year. Alongside its partner resorts in the Compagnie de Alps Group (which includes Méribel) Val d’Isère’s slope groomers have been officially weaned off diesel, and have switched to using Synthetic Biofuel HVO (vegetable oil hydrotreated water, produced from waste) as they groom the pistes.
A renewable substitute for diesel, using this new biofuel will reduce the groomers’ CO2 emissions by 90%. In other efforts to reduce emissions, this season sees Val d’Isère introducing two new electric buses to its shuttle services, reducing the CO2 emissions of the service, again by 90%. By 2025, Val d’Isère aims to have added 15 electric buses to the services that run between the resort and the surrounding villages.
It may only be a start, but the fact that resorts like Val d’Isère are already acting on their climate pledges is an excellent sign for the future of sustainable skiing. The ski industry must continue to work collectively in order to set environmental targets down the line. It’s even more important that they meet them. Global warming will continue to change the alpine environment tremendously, so precedents must be set by those who will be affected the most by these changes.