How does COP26 affect sport?

Posted: Wed, 03 Nov 2021 15:30

How does COP26 affect sport?

The summit, COP26, is the latest in a series of annual meetings, but this one is considered by many as the most significant yet, with a major United Nations scientific report warning that climate change is a "code red for humanity".

The two-week conference is expected to dominate the news agenda around the world, but it could also have implications for sport.

How is climate change affecting sport?

The main focus of efforts that have been and will continue to be discussed during COP26 is the aim to reduce climate change, and the many issues climate change will cause for our planet, but what negative impacts has climate change already had on sport?

Extreme weather events have already begun to have significant impacts on sport in recent years.

In 2014, matches on all outside courts at the Australian Open were suspended because of heat.

The Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 was an example of a major winter sports event which needed to use artificial snow to supplement the melting snow at Olympic venues.

Matches at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, including England's meeting with France, were cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis.

The marathon at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 was moved because of concerns about extreme heat, while competitors spoke of the brutal conditions in the hottest ever Games.

And by 2050 it is estimated that almost one in four English football league grounds can expect flooding every year.

What has sport got to do with COP itself?

Sport is a huge multi-billion dollar business with unique global reach and engagement.

With an all-encompassing effort involving all aspects of society and industry required to address issues of climate change, many see sport as being a key tool for communication across the globe.

The UN recognises this in the form of their Sport for Climate Action Framework, which asks sports bodies to sign up to five key principles:

  • Undertake systematic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility
  • Reduce overall climate impact
  • Educate for climate action
  • Promote sustainable and responsible consumption
  • Advocate for climate action through communication

What decisions could affect sport?

The main resolutions of the conference could impact sport in that they will aim to address emissions and climate change across the board.

One very specific development is that the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework - a pledge from sporting bodies to play their part in helping the environment - is set to announce it will be increasing its ask of sports organisations, requiring them to:

  • Achieve a 50% reduction in overall CO2 emissions by 2030
  • Achieve net zero by 2040
  • Submit annual reports to the UN on progress to achieve these goals

The IOC has already committed to the above targets but we expect to hear which other sports organisations will do likewise.

Outside the main summit a variety of other sporting organisations are coming together to announce a selection of other initiatives:

  • COP26 Sport Manifesto: Announcement of a manifesto signed by athletes and sports organisations. Currently has 200 signatories but could be closer to 250 by the day.
  • Loughborough University will be announcing the world's first sport and sustainability course, to launch in September 2022.

Source: BBC Sport

Tags: News, Partner, Public