In this piece we introduce the United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework, which encourages and enables signatories in the world of sport to tackle the climate crisis and set an example to the rest of the world.
What is the purpose of the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework?
The framework's purpose is for sport to help to achieve the global climate change goals set out in the Paris Agreement, of climate neutrality by 2050 and global warming limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius or lower. Organisations can pledge their commitment to the framework, which works towards two overarching goals:
- Achieving a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change, through commitments and partnerships according to verified standards, including measuring, reducing, and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the well below 2 degree scenario enshrined in the Paris Agreement;
- Using sports as a unifying tool to federate and create solidarity among global citizens for global action.
The goals are simultaneously internal and external: calling on the world of sport to step up in the fight against climate change and in so doing inspire the world to take similar action.
How did it come about?
It was launched in December 2018, at COP24 in Poland, with founding signatories including the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, and the local organising committees of the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Olympic Games. It was time for the sports industry to take collective action to pursue global environmental sustainability, taking responsibility for the climate footprint of the industry and displaying leadership in operating more sustainably and inspiring others to do likewise.
Sports organisations have a huge environmental footprint, due to stadia, international travel, fan consumption, and a large workforce. Consumers are demanding that sports organisations, major events and venues reduce their negative impact on the world around them.
What do signatories need to do?
Organisations commit to adopt five key principles which will enable them to measure, reduce and offset their carbon emissions:
- Undertake systematic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility;
- Reduce overall climate impact;
- Educate for climate action;
- Promote sustainable and responsible consumption;
- Advocate for climate action through communication.
The principles make clear that the sports industry must look both inward and outward to play its part in the climate crisis. It is to be a mutually supportive activity, of knowledge sharing, lesson learning, and active collaboration. That mentality will allow the five principles to become mainstreamed within the world of sport.
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