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Strapping your feet onto slippery planks and hurtling down a mountain isn't exactly everyone's idea of a good time. But, as many mountain-goers know, there's nothing quite like sitting at the summit and admiring the view. And for those lucky enough to live in these majestic places, their livelihoods depend on the snow-sports industry.
However, snow-sports are at the front line when it comes to the effects of climate change. From summer forest fires and droughts, to reduced snowfall and early melting, resorts are really feeling the heat. And supporting ecosystems, forests and hydrological systems are also showing poor vital signs.
Luckily, more and more mountain communities are taking action on climate change and encouraging visitors to follow suite. So here are just five of our favourites who are winning when it comes to taking the fight:
Home to the biggest solar farm in Austria, Werfenweng is one of only two places in the Alps offering carbon-neutral holidays. But their greatest claim to carbon cutting glory is their sustainable transports. When visitors arrive, they're encouraged to hand over their car keys. In exchange they can travel with a free taxi service, hire cross-country skiing equipment, ride in horse drawn carriages and even trek across the mountains with llamas. No, this isn't a Disney film, but like an Apline Cinderella, you really can swap your tin box for a horse and carriage!
The Three Valleys, France
The Three Valleys itself is huge - with eight resorts, 166 ski lifts and 2,000 snow cannons, there sure is a lot to power! Luckily the Alps is known as the Water Table of Europe so it comes as no surprise that their main energy source is hydropower. In addition to harnessing Apline water power, they also have a free bus service, car-free villages and have recently installed more efficient lifts and snow groomers! Très bien!
If you look really closely, you may just spot little white pods hidden amongst the idyllic Swiss mountains. And these aren't giant snowballs... they're apline eco-houses for visitors to glamp in style! As well as looking awesome, their geometric shape super insulates the space, so all the heat from your own personal log fire is kept in.
Alta Badia, Italy
Alta Badia in northern Italy is home to a very special ski lift that uses no fossil fuels at all. It is in fact horse powered. Nope, not the imperial unit of power - this little town is literally powered by horses. Across a particularly flat area of snow, skiers and boarders hold onto a rope, which is attached to a sleigh and pulled by two hearty Noriker horses. Although it's perhaps not the most effective of carbon cuts, it certainly wins points for originality!
Berkshire East, USA
Back in 2008, family run Berkshire East resort was faced with a toxic combination of increased air pollution, rising fuel bills and poorer quality snow. So in true climate-action spirit they rolled up their thermal sleeves and went 100% renewable. Building a 277ft tall turbine and installing around 2,000 solar panels, the resort is now the first and only 100% renewably powered place of it's kind! Pretty awesome huh!?
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