News and Notes

BBC and Sport 2050, Valencia CF Uses Sustainable Aviation Fuel


Following up on Friday’s GSB’s forward-looking News & Notes column with a duo of futuristic Green-Sports stories…

The BBC has embarked on a sweeping project to imagine how sports will have changed by 2050 due to the impacts of climate change.

Meanwhile, Valencia CF of La Liga, Spain’s top football league, is looking to slow those impacts by piloting sustainable aviation fuel for recent flight.



The BBC debuted its far-reaching and innovative Sports 2050 project on its website on Monday.

Per the site’s homepage, the BBC created Sport 2050 to “mak[e] the abstract future impacts of climate change more real for people by looking at how it might impact on their everyday lives. Sport — one of the most universally relatable areas of life across the globe that raises passions like no other — presents an ideal opportunity to do this. The second thought behind the project was the ability of sport to help inform readers who may not otherwise have engaged with the science of, or news around, climate change.”

“Why did the BBC choose 2050?”, you may ask.

That year was thought to be relatable to many people’s own lives as well as their children’s and grandchildren’s. And it is near-term enough that the range of potential projected climate impacts is much narrower than would be the case for 2075 or 2100.

The British network made it clear that the many imagined scenarios for how sport will be played and watched 29 years from now are not predictions. Rather, they are “creatively imagined and for illustrative purposes only — but are based on both the science and collective thoughts of how sport might adapt.”

A who’s who of academics and thought leaders from the sustainable sports world helped bring Sport 2050 to life:

  • David Goldblatt, author and chair of the Board of Trustees of Football For Future
  • Dr. Maddy Orr, founder and co-director of The Sport Ecology Group and EcoAthletes advisory board member
  • Kate Sambrook, PhD researcher and author of “Hit for Six,” a report about climate change and cricket
  • Russell Seymour, founder and chief executive of the British Association for Sustainable Sport (BASIS)
  • Nicholas Watanabe, associate professor of big data and analytics at the University of South Carolina. He works on the relationship between sport and the environment.


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David Goldblatt (Photo credit David Goldblatt)


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Kate Sambrook (Photo credit: Kate Sambrook)


Here is a sampling from the 23 segments that resulted from the team’s collective creative imaginings:

The 2050 Men’s World Cup in China will feature…

  • 60 minute matches, a dramatic reduction from the current 90
  • Climate-controlled stadiums for all matches
  • A much smaller tournament, with 24 teams making it to China, half the size of the 48 squad field that will begin with the 2026 World Cup in Canada, Mexico and the USA. Qatar 2022 will be the last 32-team field. Until the climate-mandated contraction begins, that is.
  • 40-man game day rosters, a dramatic rise from the current 23. This is the result of the change to unlimited substitutions per match, up from the current three. An automatic substitution will be triggered “whenever a player’s biometric readings from their active kits indicates they are approaching the ‘red zone’ in terms of heat or fatigue.”


Golf will be almost unrecognizable thanks to the impacts the BBC team imagines climate change might have on water supplies and the resulting extinction of lush wide-open fairways. They envisioned the 2050 launch of the Extreme World Golf Tour, played in urban landscapes:

  • EWGT courses will course through “warehouses, industrial buildings, old farmland and even defunct sports stadiums.”
  • Speed of play has become core to the game: The winner of the initial “Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station X-Open” had a score of 129: the sum of 82 shots taken and the 47 minutes it took to play the round. Former US President George H.W. Bush, a noted speed golfer (on grass courses) would have been amazed.


Climate change’s impacts on winter sports, already significant, will be severe:

  • Skiing and snowboarding events around the world will frequently be canceled due to warm temperatures.
  • Iconic winter sports venues, including Chamonix, France, site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924, will shut down partially or completely
  • Snow sports participation will decrease precipitously because the opportunities to ski and snowboard will be severely limited
  • The IOC may decide to locate the Winter Games in a permanent venue that, despite climate change, still would likely have temperatures cold enough to support the traditional events.
  • Winter Olympics may contested without snow.

Think about that.


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Slalom roller skier Miks Zvejnieks of Latvia. The BBC's Sport 2050 team imagines that roller skiing may have to replace the snow version due to the effects of climate change (Photo credit: OLS Magazine)


GSB’s Take: This is a brilliant effort on the part of the BBC to lay out what sports might look like in 2050. Sadly, the visions suggested by their team of experts seem all too plausible to GSB. One item that the BBC did not address was if there was anything that humanity can do, starting in 2021, to change the predestined, parched 2050 sports landscape. It would be worth it for the BBC to explore the impact concerted climate action could have. And it is worthwhile for all GSB readers to explore the entirety of Sport 2050.



Valencia CF lost a tough 1-0 match at Sevilla last Wednesday but its trip back to their Mediterranean home may have been the important result.

Exolum, a leader in the transportation and storage of liquid fuels in Europe, and its Avikor brand, supplied the sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) for the 400 mile (644 km) flight operated by Air Nostrum, Spain’s leading domestic airline. SAF is a biofuel produced from plant-based materials and/or waste or materials. Across its whole lifecycle, emissions derived from its use are up to 80 percent lower than standard jet fuel.


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An Avikor tanker filled with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) fuels up the Air Nostrum jet that would transport Valencia CF home from Sevilla after their match on May 12 (Photo credit: Tank Storage Magazine)


The final fuel blend was analyzed at independent labs and the SAF component earned certification as “sustainable fuel” according to the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) system, which is recognized by the EU.

According to a statement from Exolum, this was one of the first flights operated in Spain to use this type of sustainable aviation fuel, and it represents a commitment by both companies and the club to fly more sustainably.


GSB’s Take: Kudos to Valencia CF for being an early sports-world adapter of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). These are early and important days for less carbon-intense air travel. And the stakes are high: Per Project Drawdown, approximately 20,000 airplanes are in the air around the world, producing at minimum 2.5 percent of annual GHG emissions.

With upwards of 50,000 planes expected to take to the skies by 2040 — and with usage per plane predicted to skyrocket — fuel efficiency will have to rise dramatically if emissions are to be reduced in any meaningful way. Beyond SAF, Drawdown says the industry can and must improve engine performance, deploy aerodynamic wingtips, and reduce the weight of jet interiors.

To be sure, air travel has a stratospheric per-person carbon impact. If sports doesn’t want to be limited to rail travel in a carbon-constrained “Sport 2050” world, it must use its high profile and its pocketbook to help accelerate the adoption of low carbon aviation fuel.




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