Tuesday, August 22, 2023
Sport is no stranger to the struggle to decarbonize the planet and is gradually becoming aware of the need to take measures to reduce or neutralize the carbon footprint of professional sports. Consequently, more and more sports groups or organizations are implementing or planning actions to reduce the emissions associated with their events.
One example of the impact of the sport is the Qatar World Cup, held late last year. In terms of CO2 emissions, according to the official FIFA report entitled Greenhouse Gas Accounting Report, the event emitted a total of 3.6 megatons of carbon dioxide. The figures are higher according to other sources, such as the Greenly consulting firm, which put total and actual emissions at six million tons, equivalent to the emissions of 750,000 U.S. households for a year.
Nevertheless, the soccer world is taking steps towards decarbonization. Proof of this is the Real Betis 'Forever Green' program. This sustainability platform for companies and institutions aims to harness the power of the most popular sport on the planet to help save it. It is a commitment created by Real Betis to raise awareness of the current need to fight against climate change.
At this program's first sustainability gala, the English club Forest Green Rovers was recognized for its commitment to the planet and considered by FIFA as the most sustainable club in the world. The Forest Green is owned by billionaire Dale Vince, who bought it more than a decade ago, completely transforming the club, not on a sporting level but on an ecological level. First he changed eating habits, then he built a new stadium, the Ecopark, made of wood, with a lawn that does not use pesticides or chemicals and is watered with rainwater barrels, in addition to having solar panels throughout the stadium.
But there are sports apart from soccer. Golf has emerged as a model of human action towards a more sustainable planet, characterized by water conservation through reclaimed water, the adoption of eco-friendly landscaping, and the beneficial role its facilities play in minimizing carbon emissions.
A study by the Royal Spanish Golf Federation indicates that almost 60 percent of courses with 18 holes or more use regenerated or desalinated water for irrigation, which is not suitable for human consumption.
Another case is the motor industry and, in particular, Formula 1, whose organization has been working for years to minimize the impact of its events. In 2019, it implemented a program,"F1 Net Zero 2030," which aims to reduce its total emissions by 50%.
To this end, they are working to reduce the number of trips and travel by team personnel, which accounts for two-thirds of the footprint generated. The competition calendar is being rearranged, following criteria of geographic proximity, to group the races closer to each other, and the company is considering including remote operations to reduce transportation, redesigning its cargo containers, and using renewable energy in its offices.
In addition, Formula 1 itself has announced that it is introducing 100% sustainable fuels in its racing and service cars, which will substantially reduce associated emissions.
Major events raise awareness
The Olympic Games are the other big event in the world of sport, and their next stop is Paris 2024. And naturally, the environmental issue will play a leading role. That is why the Paris 2024 Board of Directors approved a climate strategy that commits to organizing the world's first Olympic and Paralympic Games with a positive contribution to the environment.
Sports organizations are increasingly recognizing the global situation, and in collaboration with the UN, they are demonstrating their commitment to bring about changes by signing the new Sports for Climate Action Framework. Notable organizations featured in this framework include the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the International Sailing Federation, the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, and the World Surf League.
This movement aims not only to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from sporting events, but also to leverage the popularity of athletes and the passion of fans to accelerate behavioral change and raise public awareness.
At the same time, many companies linked to sport as sponsors are seeking out a commitment to the environment and the fight against the carbon footprint. This is the case of the Valencia Women's Tennis Open and the Spanish Golf Open, which have implemented a series of measures to offset the entire carbon footprint they generate.
The BBVA Valencia International Open became the first tennis tournament in the world to offset its carbon footprint. All this, thanks to the implementation of energy saving, recycling, and emission reduction measures. In addition, the offsetting of the footprint is included through two projects headed up by the company Climate Trade.
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