Day 1 of last week’s Sport Positive Summit in London featured a who’s who of Green-Sports leaders delivering climate hope leavened by the harsh reality of the climate crisis (click here for a recap).
Climate-active athletes, along with innovative Green-Sports practitioners, helped take the lead on Day 2, advocating in a variety of ways for a #ClimateComeback.
Here are the Day 2 highlights!
HOW CAN WE LEVERAGE OUR COLLECTIVE FORCE FOR GOOD
Sean McCabe, Climate Justice Officer, Bohemians Football Club¹
“We at Bohemians see football as a social responsibility and climate justice as fully intersectional. In fact, we see achieving our Net Zero pledge by 2035 as a Community Wealth Builder! To be a good ancestor, we have to be positive, fight the doubts and criticism. We have to try big things, even if we fail.”
“Sustainability is an interesting word…It means to continue or sustain something. Do we really want to sustain the current situation? Growing CO2 emissions, income inequality, inflation? Oil and gas should be treated as tobacco by the sports industry.”
GSB’s Take: England Cycling should have spoken with McCabe before announcing its sponsorship deal with Shell Oil on Monday. The governing body says the deal will help accelerate its achievement of net zero. The immediate and severe backlash, as reported here by The Guardian, shows that there is a great deal of doubt in the cycling world and beyond about that statement.
Sean McCabe (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)
Julia Pallé, Sustainability Director, Formula E
“We are a global traveling circus; the communities where we hold our races are our partners. And make no mistake; we can be a positive or negative influence on our communities. Everything we do is to make sure we are a positive influence. We work to provide our partners with the tools to drive climate hope and action. For example, we employ locals at each race site to show our commitment to the community and to limit emissions.”
“Moving beyond fossil fuel companies is a challenge for motor sports and beyond. For example, hydrogen will play a big role in the future of transport but, as of now, the fossil fuel companies control the hydrogen!”
AUTHENTIC AND TRULY IMPACTFUL FAN ENGAGEMENT
Julia Wall-Clarke, Head of Impact and Communications, EXTREME E
“We have to reach beyond the motor sports echo chamber to drive climate action and solutions. EXTREME E is fortunate to have Formula 1 legends like Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosburg as team owners; this allows us to broaden our audience, especially since…”
“…we don’t have fans on site due to our remote locations [in places like Greenland and the Amazon Rainforest]”
GSB’s Take: The Green-Sports world needs to watch EXTREME E closely and learn from it. Why? Because the Green-Sports movement since its inception 20+ years ago, has been almost universally focused on greening the games themselves – at the stadiums, arenas, and road races. The long term problem with that approach is that the vast majority of fans NEVER GO TO A GAME. That’s not GSB talking…Take it from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: He said in 2021 that only one percent of NBA fans ever attend an NBA game.
So, EXTREME E by necessity is building its fan base and driving its climate action messaging via TV, computers, tablets and phones. That’s where fans are and that’s where the climate messaging needs to be directed.
Julia Wall-Clarke (Photo credit)
Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, Environmental Science Advisor to the NBA, MLS and the New York Yankees
“We have to be careful when using language around science if we want to positively change fan behavior. The first courtesy we owe each other is the truth. History will not look kindly on [climate-related] ‘accomplishments’ that are not biologically authentic. For example, ‘carbon neutral’ or ‘sustainable aviation fuel’. Those are not real. At the NBA, MLS and the Yankees, we are very careful to use ‘aspirational’ language…we ‘aspire’ to be carbon neutral. Why is this important?…
“…The IPCC clearly shows that global carbon emissions continue to rise. Cement and steel, core elements of stadium construction, can’t be made without fossil fuels.”
Dr. Allen Hershkowitz (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)
Dale Vince, Chairman, Forest Green Rovers
“Allen is scaring me! He’s 100 percent right about telling the truth. I disagree with him about steel and cement. Both can be made without fossil fuels…Now, some things can seem impossible now; for example, electric aviation. But we have to try and try harder and faster. And electric aviation is going to be a reality!”
“When we bought Forest Green Rovers 12 years ago, we decided that we had to run it by the ethos of Ecotricity [the solar and win company Vince built]. We didn’t wait for fan approval; rather, we explained to them what we were doing…and why. Our 100 percent vegan concession stands were and still are the biggest thing; that’s the #1 question the media asks. But it’s turned into a net positive for us.”
“Almost 80 percent of our personal footprints come from energy, transport and food. We must communicate to fans that there is another way to do everything we do!”
Dale Vince (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)
BEYOND THE HASHTAG: EVOLVING THE ATHLETE VOICE
Jeremy Casebeer, AVP beach volleyball player, Players for the Planet ambassador, EcoAthletes Champion
“Hey, I realize I’m not perfect; I am constantly trying to find ways to do better. I get criticized for flying to play my sport; when I ask the critics how I can do better, all I get is silence.”
“According to the climate scientist and climate communicator Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, 97 percent of climate messaging is ‘gloom and doom’. Athletes can change that with messaging to our audiences.”
Jeremy Casebeer (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)
Tayshan Hayden-Smith, former footballer, community activist, founder Grow2Know
“There has been a stigma in the locker room around talking about the environment. Some guys are afraid of the political nature of the climate issue.”
“We work to show athletes that there’s no need to be ashamed or afraid of climate or other political conversations for that matter. Athletes have the power to build bridges to their communities, their fans, on the environment.”
Tayshan Hayden-Smith (Photo credit: Sport Positive Summit 2022)
Jamie Farndale, international rugby captain, Scotland Sevens
“Building on what Tayshan said, we have to get over our fear of not being expert to express the need for climate action…”
We don’t have climate scientists to talk about it, we just have to get started and act. Be motivated to stick your head above the parapet by being a climate ambassador. We [Other climate-minded athletes] have your back!”