Reflections on the UNFCCC Climate Action in the Sports Sector Dialogue

Reflections on the UNFCCC Climate Action in the Sports Sector Dialogue

30th-31st October 2017, Bonn, Germany

The COP23 Climate Change Talks have concluded in Bonn, Germany where governments, academics, campaigners and NGOs discussed ongoing implementation of the Paris Climate Change agreement. On day one Syria, the only UN registered country not to have signed up to the original agreement, indicated that they are now ready to join the world community in combatting potentially catastrophic climate disruption (notwithstanding the threat of the Trump administration to withdraw and effectively isolate the US on climate change as the only non-aligned country – this in a year when two category 5 hurricanes made landfall in the US in quick succession).

In November it was the turn of the Sports Sector to meet for two days of discussions in the same UN Offices and I was excited and pleased to represent BASIS at the “UNFCCC Climate Action in the Sports Sector Dialogue” among sports sector colleagues from around the world. The focus of the meeting was to understand how sport can respond to the threat of climate change, both in terms of how we reduce the impact of our sector, and how sport can be used as a vehicle to educate our participants, fans, supply chains and the millions of people who regularly interact with sport in myriad ways. Workshop topics included “Understanding our Impacts”, “Responding to a changed environment”; and “Working together”.

Arguably sport has a relatively small environmental impact compared to some other industries (though it soon adds up when you expand from just looking at venues to the travel associated with watching and participating in sport, to the manufacture of sports kit, equipment and apparel, building of venues, and the list goes on) but we have a substantial outreach and opportunity to help the public understand the impacts of environmental change. All sports will be affected by climate change, some more than others, but each of us, athlete or fan, relies on a clean environment for the air that we breath, the water we drink and the healthy, nutritious food that we eat.

In the middle of the UN-Sport Dialogue meeting the World Meteorological Organisation announced the highest ever annual increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide (the most significant greenhouse gas forcing climate change) so highlighting the importance of what we were talking about and the urgency of the opportunity that sport has to respond. The Paris Climate Change Agreement is a source of optimism, but the threat of climate change is real and is not going away fast. Action is needed, sport is in a strong position to respond and BASIS intends to lead the charge to a more sustainable sports sector in the UK. Please join us.

Dr. Russell Seymour

Chair - BASIS 

Nicholas Roberts