Becoming carbon literate with POW

29th June 2021, by Abi Butcher

Being in the mountains brings me so much joy: here, jumping in Crans Montana

Being in the mountains brings me so much joy: here, jumping in Crans Montana

Over the last few weeks I’ve been broadening my knowledge of the issues facing our planet and the mountains and ski resorts we all love so much, thanks to some carbon-literacy training with Protect Our Winters.

I’ve been writing for several years for both Where to Ski & Snowboard and for other titles including the Daily Telegraph and National Geographic Traveller about ways to make our ski holidays more sustainable (see my latest feature here on sustainable ski resorts), and I have been growing frustrated at how difficult it is to get people interested in the crucial issue of protecting our winters. A small number of people care passionately, a larger number of people care a bit and do what they can but I’m aware there is a (possible even larger) group of people who are not particularly interested or don’t believe in climate change, who can’t be bothered to even buy a reusable coffee cup and don’t think the snow line is shrinking or winters shortening.

But the simple fact is that if we don’t do anything to address the current rate of climate change, the ski resorts that we know and love will soon be changed beyond all recognition.

Studies have shown that snow seasons in the Alps are now 22-34 days shorter than 50 years ago in regions lower than 2,000m. And best estimates are that there will be 30 per cent less snow at locations above 2000m, and worst estimates place a reduction of 70 per cent in snow at that level.

Imagine that: many of the ski resorts we know and love will be changed forever. No more ski-in, ski-out chalets in places like Verbier and Meribel, a massive reduction in the availability of skiing which will make our beloved sport more elitist, more expensive and basically out of reach to most.

Although the course was titled “carbon-literacy”, sustainable global development involves a huge number of other changes, from improving global health and wellbeing, to reducing inequalities and work/economic growth, clean water and sanitation to improving the quality of our oceans.

Protect our Winters’ mantra is “progress not perfection” so if everyone does a little to help ease the load on our planet — from turning off lights, boiling less water in the kettle to cutting down unnecessary journeys, only eating local produce and less meat to the bigger stuff like travelling to ski resorts by train — much can be achieved.

You can work out your own carbon footprint and find out which areas of your life can be improved using this easy environmental footprint calculator from

But if you want to learn more about what is happening, why it’s happening and what you can do to affect change in not only your friendship circle and family but also at government level, I’d highly recommend this course.

The course — aimed at anyone and everyone — is spread over four two-hour sessions and a bargain at just £35. It is accredited by the Carbon Literacy Project, specifically tailored to the outdoor community. The next one is end of July (fully booked at present but you can join the waiting list) or sign up for sessions in September by clicking here.

To learn more about Protect our Winters and sign up for their newsletter, visit

Back to all blogs

Recent blogs

Share |