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How sport can use the UN Climate Change Framework to achieve a greener future

Rugby Climate
Monday, 21 November 2022 By Ted Powell, Thomas Barnard

Climate change is an immensely important issue for our generation. Sports organisations (such as clubs, governing bodies and leagues) and individual athletes have the ability to influence millions of people.  With its ability to cut across race, gender, age, politics and other divisive characteristics, sports’ powerful platform can be used to raise awareness for climate change and champion sustainable behaviour.  

Various sport organisations, including Arsenal FC, Williams Racing and World Rugby for example, have signed the UN’s Sport For Climate Action Framework3 which requests signatories to commit to halving their emissions by 2030 and aim to achieve net-zero by 2040. 

The Framework1 sets out five key principles which demonstrate how sports organisations can use their platform to promote a more sustainable future.  The five principles are:

  1. Undertake systematic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility;

  2. Reduce overall climate impact;

  3. Educate for climate action;

  4. Promote sustainable and responsible consumption; and

  5. Advocate for climate action through communication.

(the “Principles”).

Setting ambitious and genuine sustainability goals also has commercial benefits for sports organisations, as they can benefit from increased fan engagement, investment and reputation.  In League One, Forest Green Rover’s status as “The World’s Green Football Club” has enabled it to punch above it weight and secure long-term deals with “green” brands such as Oatly, Quorn, Bolt and Ecotricity.2

This article considers how sports organisations can use governance, policies and contracts to implement the Principles and promote a greener future, inside and outside of sport.    

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Written by

Ted Powell

Ted Powell

Commercial Disputes Solicitor

Ted is a commercial litigation trainee solicitor at Irwin Mitchell

Thomas Barnard

Thomas Barnard

Tom is a Senior Associate Solicitor specialising in commercial litigation and sports law. He acts for a wide variety of high-profile athletes, including cricketers, footballers, gymnasts and cyclists.

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