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© Alamy - Brunton Park floods in 2015

Sustainability: A challenge for football

Ahead of this year’s FSA AGM (register here) Neil Dady and Nicolas Andrews-Gauvain from Wolves 1877 Trust explain why they think football has to show real leadership to tackle the climate emergency…

“Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy and habitable by all species” – Sir David Attenborough

Who can remember the floods of 2015 when Carlisle’s stadium was flooded? Or 2020 when forest fires and extreme heat disrupted the Australian Open in Sydney? Sport reaches every corner of the globe and is not immune from the consequences of the climate crisis.

But sport also had the power to influence the current, as well as those to come. The dominant sport in England, and the rest of the world, is football.

Leading clubs in England are undeniably taking positive steps to address issues around sustainability, for instance, Spurs topped Sports Positive’s “green table” in 2020, which was based on the use of clean energy, energy efficiency and other positive environmental behaviours.

The club also signed up to the UN’s Sports for Climate Action Framework, which helped them pip Arsenal, Brighton and Manchester United, to the post, out of the top-flight clubs which were ranked.

However, football can do better and many clubs continue to work in isolation. Worryingly, many professional clubs do not have a published sustainability policy.

Football not only has the power, but also the responsibility, to lead and influence change, to use its unique influence for good. There’s a great opportunity for collaboration on sustainability initiatives between clubs, governing bodies and football supporters.

We’d like to see clubs publish a sustainability policy, nominate a director to lead that, publish CO2 emissions, commit to external benchmarking and publish Net Zero Carbon targets.

If football doesn’t do its bit to challenge the climate emergency then there us a real risk that, by 2050, 23 of the 92 league clubs can expect partial or total annual flooding.

It is in football best interests to act now.

What can I do?

The FSA’s AGM takes place this Friday 19th November and we’d ask you to back our motion which will be debated and voted upon by members. In addition you can ask your club’s supporters’ groups to raise these issues locally.

Motion proposed by Neil Dady (Wolves 1877 Trust) and Steve Moulds (Foxes Trust):

The FSA recognise the wider climate emergency and the concern of supporters regarding the environmental impact of professional sport.

Football clubs have the influence to be a force for change by making a positive impact on their own direct CO2 emissions but also through promoting behavioural change amongst match going supporters.

However, many clubs do not have a published sustainability policy and are still not publicly reporting on their environmental impact with associated data.

This AGM resolves to engage directly with the FA, Premier and Football League with the aim to campaign for all clubs to develop, and publish, a sustainability policy. This policy should include a plan for achieving Net Zero Carbon emissions in line with, or ahead, of UK Government policy.

We also call for all clubs to participate in independent external sustainability benchmarking by the commencement of season 2022/23.

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