Climate change and sport

Climate change and sport

We often talk about climate change and the impact it is likely to have on future generations. It’s time for us to change this rhetoric – climate change is something that’s already impacting on people’s lives. One example is in the world of sport.

As the Premier League season has just started, we’ll start with the example of football. Football is mainly played in the winter months in the UK. With a 26% increase in winter rainfall since 1900, it’s becoming harder to play – have you ever tried to kick a ball across a field with a coating of water, or to get to a match when all the roads are flooded? In 2013/14 and 2015/16, there was over 150% more rainfall than average, impacting on the grassroots game in particular. Local clubs are losing five weeks every season on average because of bad weather, and with even wetter winters predicted, this is likely to get worse.

Golf courses suffer from the same issues when there’s heavy rain, but the biggest issue that many face at the moment is rising sea levels and increased storms leading to more coastal erosion. Some of our most iconic golf courses are on the coast. The sea at Montrose has moved 70 metres inland since the 1980’s. They are considering the need to move the whole of the links course, which would mean losing a big slice of sporting history.

International cricket is also suffering from adverse weather conditions, with 5% of matches since 2011 having to be stopped. The local game is also being affected. In Cardiff, Glamorgan Cricket Club has lost more than 20,000 overs so far this century because of extreme weather.

Clubs and governing bodies are beginning to recognise the issue and take action to reduce their climate impact, as well as adapting practices to cope with the changes. We worked with Manchester United from when they started their environmental management programme in 2001, through certification to ISO 14001:2004 and their successful transition to ISO 14001:2015 earlier this year. If you would find our expertise helpful for your sports club, call Julia now on 07904 389889.

Statistics used in this blog have been taken from the Climate Coalition’s Game Changer report on climate change and sport.