“It has been [amazing, incredible, overwhelming, etc.] to meet so many people in the Green-Sports space in person that I’ve only known over Zoom the last few years!”
That was the most frequently uttered refrain at the start of last week’s Sport Positive Summit at London’s Wembley Stadium. Once the COVID-era “I can’t believe you’re actually a 3-D person!” excitement subsided, the panels, networking and collaborating began in earnest.
Held in conjunction with UN Climate Change and the IOC, the sold-out Summit drew 450 in-person attendees with another 100 or so joining online from around the world.
And thanks to the leadership and dogged persistence of Sport Positive driving force Claire Poole and her team over a two-year span, the Summit ultimately became the most substantive, action oriented Green-Sports event GSB has attended.
Here are some of the most notable ideas and thoughts that came from the Day 1 main stage sessions; we will post Sport Positive’s Day 2 highlights on Wednesday.
SPORTS LEADERS PANEL: STATE OF THE GREEN-SPORTS INDUSTRY
Massimo Calvelli, CEO ATP Tour
On the potential for backlash from fans and sponsors who might feel the ATP and its players are going too far on climate…
“I am not worried about a backlash; I’m worried about not doing enough on climate…”
“When I started with the ATP, we immediately had to deal with a bushfire crisis surrounding the Australian Open. Getting leadership’s commitment to take action was a must and we did that…We know that younger fans expect us to make climate action a priority…Now, climate is a part of every partner discussion. Many of them bring it up from our first conversations.”
Massimo Calvelli (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)
Sally Bolton/OBE, CEO, All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (aka the Wimbledon Championships)
“We play our sport on a living surface…It’s critical that we tackle climate change. Yes, reducing waste is important but we must go beyond that. One way we are going to do this is to work as hard as we can to ‘de-gassify’ our estate. Another is to work to increase biodiversity on site. We are also very cognizant of making sure we protect our fans from extreme heat, while doing what we can to reduce the drivers of that heat, carbon emissions. Important for us is to not be seen as lecturing.
Sally Bolton (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)
Henry Chilcott, CMO, Formula E
“[Getting things right on climate change] should be easier for us than other sports because we were founded for that purpose. For us, we need to find that sweet spot where we can maximize results on environmental sustainability and on racing performance. Sometimes the choices are challenging. For example we could use slicker tires which would shave time for our races but would not be the most environmentally friendly choice. So we went another way.
“Still, no one tunes in on a Saturday because you’re saving the world; they tune in because you deliver exciting auto racing. They stay because of our values.”
Henry Chilcott (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit)
THE CHALLENGE OF NET ZERO AND SCOPE 3 FOR SPORT
Note: Scope 3 emissions are the result of activities from an entity’s supply chain.
Moderator Lindita Xhaferi Salihu, Sectors Engagement in Climate Action, Lead, Sports for Climate Action/UNFCCC
“Almost 80 percent of emissions in sport are Scope 3. Some say the data is not there but it is. We just have to do a better job of finding it and dealing with it. Can we demystify Scope 3 emissions data collection? It won’d be easy but I believe we can and will!”
“The elephant in the room as far as Scope 3 emissions are concerned is fan travel. We have to acknowledge and measure this.”
Lindita Xhaferi-Salihu (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)
Fiona Morgan, Director of Purpose & Impact, SailGP
“[Measuring and reporting on emissions related to] fan travel keeps me up at night…For example is maximizing attendance really what we want to do? Maybe. For example, we have a race at Cadiz, Spain. Attendance in 2021 was low due to COVID, estimated to be around 40,000. This year, with COVID less of a factor, attendance was reported at about 140,000. That’s great in most respects but from a Scope 3 emissions aspect, no…We and our partners have to think differently, and are already doing so.”
Fiona Morgan (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)
Lee Spivak, Senior Manager Advisory Services, WM
“[On Scope 3 emissions, sustainability consultants] have to tell their sports clients — teams, venues, governing bodies — that ignoring this is no longer an option. [For sports that are tour-based and can choose where they have their events, like the PGA Tour, Formula 1, etc.,] start out by picking cities that have the best mass transit infrastructure and then build from there.”
Lee Spivak (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)
Julie Duffus, Senior Sustainability Manager, International Olympic Committee
“Scope 3 emissions are challenging. Here’s an example…”
“…The IOC thought about using ‘Sustainable Aviation Fuel’ (SAF). We studied it and determined that the environmental benefits are negligible at best and therefore see it is greenwashing. We ended up not buying it. Instead, we’re going to work to reduce our flights and will look to invest in SAF once the technology is much more advanced.”
Julie Duffus (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)
Leilani Münter, BBC 2022 Green Sports Award ‘Evergreen Athlete of the Year’, Retired ‘Vegan, Hippie Chick with a Race Car’
Note: Münter’s talk was the first GSB had ever heard on a Green-Sports summit stage to bring up the issue of global population increase and its contribution to the climate crisis.
“Climate change is a function of two things: Consumption of resources and population. We talk almost exclusively about the former, but population is such a big factor. How big?
The world reached 2 billion people in 1927, 123 years after it reached the 1 billion mark. It only took 33 years to get to 3 billion. Fourteen years later, in 1974, the year I was born, global population reached 4 billion. The 5 billion mark was reached in 1987 and the 6 billion threshold was passed in 1998. It only took until 2010 to get to 7 billion and the world is projected to hit the 8 billion mark by the end of this year.”
“We have to feel comfortable talking about population growth and its role in fueling the climate crisis. We have to be comfortable about being child-free by choice, like my husband and I are, or to have only one child, or to be adoptive parents. Remember, there are an estimated 153 million orphaned children who desperately need parents.”
Leilani Münter (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)
Photo at top: Sport Positive Summit’s Claire Poole opens the proceedings at Wembley Stadium (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)