Green-Sports Meets Politics: Russia Reneges, Protests in Charlotte, Paris Climate Talks


While the Green-Sports movement often looks to steer clear of politics, sometimes that is just not possible. As 2015 draws to a close, the intersection of Green and Sports and Politics is bustling with the news of 1) Russia backing off of a big sustainability pledge regarding the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, 2) green-themed protests at Monday’s Colts-Panthers game in Charlotte, and 3) Green-Sports taking center stage at the upcoming Paris climate talks.


Russia has reneged on a promise to compensate for environmental damage caused by construction of the 2014 Sochi Olympic games. Rather, it plans to develop areas it pledged to protect, according to an October 27 story in YAHOO News by Maria Antonova of Agence France-Presse.

While brazen, this is no surprise to GreenSportsBlog, as we named the Sochi Olympics as the “Greenwash of the Year” in 2014. The International Olympic Committee doesn’t get a pass either, with its nonsensical selection of Sochi, smack dab in a TROPICAL ZONE, to host the Games.

But we digress–back to the Russian Olympic Green Walk-Back: Many environmental organizations had furiously criticized development for the Winter Olympics in the mountains above Sochi, especially those sports venues that were built on land within Sochi National Park, one of Europe’s last undisturbed mountain ranges.

As compensation for allowing that development, the Russian government agreed to put other fragile land in the area under stricter environmental protections. Per Antonova’s story, Russian President Vladimir Putin personally championed the project, saying that “Restoring this part of lost nature is part of our Olympics.”

Really? Russia recently announced that it is no longer going to expand the protected site. Instead, Russian environment ministry authorities are now pushing to build more ski resorts in those areas. Plans now call for the Rosa Khutor ski resort, where some of the Olympic events were held, to double in size in the next two or three years, according to the Russian Ski Association.

“This is a refusal to carry out (Russia’s) Olympic obligations,” Igor Chestin, director of the Worldwide Fund (WWF) for Nature in Russia, told AFP.


Activists have long used sports events as venues to protest on behalf of a wide variety of causes, from the treatment of Native Americans to the Iraq War and beyond. Add liquified natural gas (LNG) to the list.

A man and a woman protesting Charlotte-based Bank of America’s financing of a liquefied natural gas facility in Maryland took a novel approach to get their point across earlier this week: As reported by The Charlotte Observer, they suspended themselves from the upper deck of Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium during the Panthers Monday Night Football game vs. the Indianapolis Colts. The protesters, wearing full rappelling gear, climbed down during the third quarter in front of the press box, unfurling a banner that read “BoA: Dump Dominion” (BofA is an abbreviation for Bank of America; Dominion Resources is the company looking to build the LNG plant.) Four people were later arrested.


Protesters rappel past the press box in Bank of America (BofA) Stadium in Charlotte, NC during Monday’s Panthers-Colts game. The protesters urged BofA to stop its support of a proposed liquified natural gas (LNG) plant in Maryland. (Photo credit: New York Daily News)


The Observer story quoted John Nicholson, a spokesman for the protestors’ group, We Are Cove Pointas saying “Bank of America is…giving money directly to Dominion with full knowledge of the health and safety risks of building an LNG export facility, and they need to be accountable to that.”

While one certainly may disagree with the group’s form of protest and/or the merits of their complaints, We Are Cove Point achieved a key objective–and that is getting exposure to at least a portion of the 12.4 million people who watched the game, according to Sports TV ratings.


World leaders, climate scientists, activists, and more will descend on Paris from November 30 to December 11 for the (take a deep breath, it’s a long name) 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. We’ll just use COP21 for short.

To paraphrase from the 1st of the 4 questions from Passover, “Why will this climate conference be different from all other climate conferences?” Well, it will be vastly different if a comprehensive, global agreement on climate change is reached that works towards keeping global warming below 2°C (Will keeping global warming below this level be sufficient? That’s another question for another day.)

The Green-Sports world will play a prominent role as Climate Action and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) join forces with the French Ministry of Sport and the Green Sports Alliance to host the Sustainable Innovation in Sport forum at Paris’ Stade de France, on December 7.

Stade de France

The Stade de France will play host to the Sustainable Innovation in Sport conference on December 7. (Photo credit: Sportycious)


The meeting will likely be the most high-powered in the history of the Green-Sports movement as 120+ leaders from sports leagues, teams, governing bodies, corporate sustainability leaders, the UN and politicians take part. It will highlight the powerful tools (i.e. recycling, increased access to mass transit, energy efficiency) sports has to amplify key aspects of the broader climate change fight. 

GSB hopes the conference will push those at the top levels of the Green-Sports world to make the climate change fight as ubiquitous in stadia, arenas and on sports broadcasts as the fights sports has engaged in on behalf of many other worthwhile causes, from racism to violence against women, from hunger to breast cancer.

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Email us: lew@greensportsblog.com
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