Green Pitch: Sky Sports to help fans make climate-conscious choices during sporting summer

Wimbledon’s Center Court will not be the only eye-catching green element of this year’s sporting summer, after Sky today launched a new campaign to encourage sport fans to take action to tackle the climate crisis.

Those attending some of the biggest sporting events this summer – including The Hundred, the British Grand Prix, The Open, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and Super League Magic Weekend – will be asked to make “small but impactful changes” to reduce their carbon emissions and minimise the impact of climate change on sport.

The broadcaster pointed to a range of ways the climate crisis is already affecting sporting events, including flooded pitches, rain delays, and wildfires, as well as athletes experiencing heat-exhaustion.

“Climate change is a pressing issue across the globe. However, it is often easy to assume the impact won’t be felt on a personal level,” said Jonathan Licht, managing director at Sky Sports. “We hope that Sky Sports can use its platform, and work closely with its key partners, to really influence and educate fans on the effects climate change is already having on sport, so they can feel inspired and motivated to take action and look after what they love.”

Fans will be such encouraged to take a range of actions as using public transport where possible, swapping in vegan alternatives instead of traditional meat-based match-day food, and reducing the amount of single-use plastics by switching to recycled or reusable alternatives.

Sky has partnered with the global Count Us In campaign to identify actions that sports fans can take to reduce their own carbon emissions. The actions have been decided based on their emissions impact, accessibility and influence on “wider systems change”.

Ken Davy, Super League chairman, said the Rugby League top tier was committed to supporting Sky’s ambition to “instigate the conversation on how we can all make small lifestyle changes to help save our planet”.

“We are determined to work with and educate our fans to help them make conscious decisions on how we can all reduce our carbon footprint,” he said. “We will be asking fans to consider how they will travel to Newcastle for Magic Weekend and what food options they make while they are in the city. We appreciate that everyone has a part to play in tackling the climate crisis and we are committed to encouraging more positive changes across the sport.”

This new campaign follows the success of Sky’s Game Zero, the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in September 2021, which became the first broadcast match to achieve net zero emissions. The match saw both teams arrive at the stadium by coaches powered by green biodiesel, the stadium itself powered by 100 per cent renewable energy, and fans rising to the occasion, with 94 per cent more vegetarian and plant-based meals sold.

Earlier this year, Sky Sports News announced that it had achieved net zero status, accredited by BAFTA’s Albert initiative.

The launch of the latest campaign follows the launch last week of the inaugural BBC Green Sport Awards, which aims to “celebrate those people in sport helping to contribute to a more sustainable future”.

Speaking about the new awards, BBC winter sports commentator Ed Leigh – who has been outspoken on the threat winter sports face from a changing climate – said sports such as skiing were “at the sharp end” of climate change due to shortened winter seasons.

Leigh said he hoped the Green Sport Awards would help incentivise those already “working at the vanguard of climate change in sport”, while encouraging other athletes, clubs and organizations to take steps to curb their environmental impact.

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