The just-concluded and always innovative Sport Positive Summit in London broke new ground for Green-Sports industry gatherings. Organizer Claire Poole gave valuable stage time to leaders who went far beyond the ‘all we need to do is take small steps on climate’ sessions that have often been the norm.
One such leader is Seán McCabe, Climate Justice Officer of Bohemian FC of Dublin in the Irish Premier Division. He spoke eloquently at Wednesday’s System Change, Education, and Capacity Building session and reprised his message in a powerful LinkedIn post, which GreenSportsBlog is proud to repost here.
Also click here to listen to a podcast interview GSB conducted with Seán last November.
GSB will be back next week with a more detailed review of the Summit.
By Seán McCabe via LinkedIn
Leaving London after the 2023 Sport Positive Summit, I feel very conflicted. Five years ago, the thought of hundreds of representatives from global sport gathering for three days to discuss their work on climate change was unthinkable. So surely we should be leaving bouyed with hope and positivity, right? I don’t feel it.
🎣 Sport is one of the few global, cultural mechanisms available to us to drive the social transformation we need to ensure a safer, fairer future. Yet, instead of courageously pushing forward with the mass mobilization of fans, I am worried we are becoming consumed by celebrating inadequate progress and red herring solutions. The window of opportunity to realise sports enormous transformative potential is narrow, and I fear we’re about to miss it.
If we are to save ourselves and not squander this opportunity, I think we need to do the following:
🏠 Stop waiting until we have our “houses in order” before reaching out to fans. Be honest, admit that figuring out a pathway to genuine social and environmental sustainability is hard. Admit it publicly. Ask the fans for their input and help. Don’t assume our role is to tell fans what they need to do. Our role may be to demonstrate that listening and asking for help is central to sustainable development.
🌳 Stop putting undue faith in offsets. Maintaining the carbon intensive status-quo by planting a heap of saplings in an impoverished nation is not a legitimate climate action. These strategies are at best untrustworthy and, at worst, utter nonsense and green colonialism. Reduce emissions. Don’t cheat. For emissions that are very difficult to mitigate, find innovative ways to offset that reduce poverty and support meaningful sustainable development.
👣 Stop talking about our fan’s carbon footprints. Don’t individualize. Fans come to sport for a collective experience, to belong to something bigger than themselves. Develop strategies for collective mobilization. Better still, co-design collective strategies with them. This will be successful. Recognize that oil companies developed the concept of carbon footprints to shift blame from their profiteering onto individuals. Stop using the term. Learn about fossil fuel propaganda and disarm it.
💰 Recognize that meaningful climate actions are not accessible or affordable to the majority of fans. Address this. Don’t assume it’s not our role. We owe our fans everything. We need to be in their corner when it comes to the accessibility of climate solutions, particularly those that offer a higher standard of living.
⛽ End fossil fuel sponsorship in sport. No exceptions. Don’t be fooled by the “we need to work with them” whataboutism. They need to be run out of town immediately.
⏱️ What we do in the next two or three years will be the measure of this community. Can we respect & repay the faith and trust of the fans and empower them in the face of the climate crisis, or will we fail and let this once in an epoch opportunity pass us by?
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