⬆The Cool Down network and Spirit of Football organised a fairplay football tournament at COP26 in Glasgow to bring people together to talk about climate change.⬆
Sport and the climate emergency are inseparable
We need a sporting hope in the face of the climate emergency. Upheaval in the climate is already taking its toll on global sport. Crises face every activity from winter and water sports to grass pitches, stadiums and hard courts. Climate breakdown means heatwaves and heat strokes for players and public alike, extreme weather that floods stadiums and grassroots playing fields; sea level rises that will inundate football grounds and sweep away golf links.
Football and the climate emergency – RMC Sport video by London correspondent Johan Honnet
In 2019, the Rugby World Cup was disrupted by unprecedented pacific typhoons; in early 2020, the Australian Tennis Open was disrupted by the smoke blowing in from the country’s devastating bush fires. Even before the pandemic changed the date, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were forced to move long distance running events north of the capital as the city’s sweltering summer weather now makes them impossible to run.
Is sport part of the problem?
Global sport’s carbon emissions at the higher end of estimates are as large as Spain or coal-burning Poland. And the Australian Tennis Open of 2021, just a year after being disrupted by smoke from firestorms, was sponsored by at least three major polluters. Some action and innovation is under way, but nowhere does it match the scale and speed demanded by climate science.
Sports’ environmental governance needs overhauling and sport itself needs reimagining by 2030 to fit into a zero carbon global economy. It is no longer tenable, for example, for sport through sponsorship to be a billboard for major polluters. Like every other industry and cultural sector, global sport was brought to a shuddering halt by the coronavirus pandemic – but it has an opportunity now to build back better, for the benefit of both athletes and supporters.
A new report – Playing against the clock: Global sport, the climate emergency and the case for rapid change – by leading academic and author, David...
Posted on 20 June 2020
Sport provides some of society’s most influential role models. If it changes others will follow. If its players speak out and say they believe that clean air and a stable climate matter, millions more will see the possibilities for change. It will not only send a message of hope for the wider world, but it will help to guarantee a planet that is safe for sport. We are already deep into extra time. According to the IPCC, if we are to mitigate the worst aspects of climate change then we need to cut the great majority of carbon reductions in the next decade. Sport can help us win – offering vital and visionary climate action leadership.
As part of a broad and growing global alliance we will learn and share ways for sport to act on the climate emergency. Everyone has something to offer, and we all have a role to play. The voices of those most vulnerable to the climate emergency and who are least responsible for the problem find it hardest to be heard and we will work to amplify them. We recognise that the time for action is now.
We pledge to:
Share our work on sport and climate as much as possible and actively amplify each other’s work.
Challenge our clubs and governing and representative bodies to design and implement their own plans to operate in line with meeting the Paris climate target of 1.5 degrees – and share lessons and what works as we go.
Engage with other dialogues and initiatives on sport and climate where our resources allow.
We believe that clubs, events and sporting bodies should:
Sign up to the UN Sport for Climate Action Framework and publish a ten-year plan to get to zero carbon by 2030, explaining how key operational elements will be decarbonised, such as team travel, supporter travel, and supply chains, with plans to contain tangible, measurable goals and targets so that plans can be scrutinised, and understanding that targets focused on 2050 leave action too late.
After 2030, global sports federations, events or tours that are not zero carbon should declare so in a transparent and public fashion, alongside publishing emergency rapid transition plans specifying how and when this target will be met.
Decarbonise travel within the ten year plan, for example with measures actively to cut reliance on air travel.
Endorse that zero carbon plans must be a condition of public support.
Positively screen sponsors and turn down any from major polluters.
Increase support to low-carbon, local grassroots sport.
If your organisation would like to join the Cool Down network please register your interest in the form below and we will be in touch.