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Major athletic events around the globe – from the 2014 Sochi Olympics to an annual powerboat race in Norwegian fjords – are striving to neutralize their carbon footprint as part of a world-wide climate network, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said today. The sporting events are the latest participants to join the network, and are particularly important for inspiring further global action on the environment, said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director. “Whether carried out on track and field or on ice and snow, sporting events ignite the spirit of achievement in thousands of competitors and billions of spectators worldwide,” Mr. Steiner said. “It is, therefore, heartening that this passion for excellence increasingly encompasses environmental performance, with sporting organizations raising the bar ever higher at each and every tournament,” he added. Organizers of the 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games – to be held in a unique natural setting between the shores of the Black Sea and the soaring snow-capped Caucasus Mountains – say they will put an estimated $1.75 billion into energy conservation and renewable energy. That investment will be dedicated to improving transport infrastructure, offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from the use of electricity, air travel and ground transportation, the reforestation of Sochi National Park and the development of green belts in the city.