Sport England launches new strategy to deal with climate change

  • Football
  • Thursday, 16 May 2024

LONDON (Reuters) - Every major sporting body in England must have robust sustainability plans in place before 2027 or face funding cuts, Sport England said on Thursday as part of a 45 million pounds ($56.98 million) investment to help deal with climate change.

"It's time we moved from informing and encouraging to enabling and requiring, and ensure our language leaves no room for the status quo," Sport England chair Chris Boardman said on the launch of Every Move, its first Sustainability Strategy.

Former Olympic track cycling champion Boardman said without action to mitigate a changing climate many people will be caught in a doom loop and be discouraged from physical activity.

According to Sport England, three in five adults in England say extreme weather affects their ability to be active.

It says the funding package, on top of a 60 million pounds investment to make swimming pools more environmentally and financially sustainable, will help more people get active in nature and restore flooded sports pitches.

The Football Association has estimated 120,000 soccer matches will be lost each year while 30% of community pitches are flooded for two months of the year.

"Without change now, the government's target to get 3.5 million more people active by 2030 is very much in jeopardy -- and our children will be the ones to suffer most," Boardman, a long-standing campaigner for safer cycling, said.

Sport England's Every Move strategy will require 130 partners, including the national governing bodies of all major recognised sports, to have sustainability plans in place within three years as a condition of their funding.

Other measures include ensuring end-of-life recycling for all artificial turf pitches installed after June 2024, while Sport England had pledged to reduce its own carbon emissions by 50% by 2023 and achieve net zero by 2040.

"We know the sector wants Sport England to provide support, guidance, and leadership on this issue and Every Move sets out how we have listened," Boardman said. "As a contributor to climate change through major events and travel, it's time for us to become part of the solution."

Sport England's strategy comes after a sector-wide consultation with stakeholders which found that eight out of 10 people wanted sports organisations to become more ambitious on environmental and sustainability issues.

The British Association for Sustainable Sport (BASIS) said it was a step change in the battle against climate change.

"BASIS has been calling for funding to be linked to sustainability since 2011 and I congratulate Sport England for creating a framework which can provide National Governing Bodies with the support they need to protect sport in the face of climate change," BASIS chair Russell Seymour said.

($1 = 0.7898 pounds)

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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