Sport for Change 2023
Sport Sponsors Climate Pledge
Kevin Tayebaly, Co-Founder, ChangeNOW
Spring 2023. The world rushes toward a future in which temperatures have soared through the 1.5 degree threshold that the IPCC warns will lead to the worst climate disruptions. For some regions of the world, this future is already here.
Prof. Johan Rockstrom said it earlier this year: we are in a state of climate crisis. Humanity needs to take all the actions it can—collectively and individually—to bring planet-warming emissions down as quickly as possible.
Governments and companies are expected to lead these efforts. Yet, nations have struggled in recent years to reach agreements commensurate with the stakes involved, as seen in the latest climate COPs.
Large companies have, for the most part, started putting emissions reduction objectives and strategies in place. But the concrete results are still far away from the level of action needed to reach our goals. For small-to-medium sized businesses and non-private organizations, the trajectory is worse: nearly three-quarters have not carried out a carbon footprint assessment in 2022, yet these organizations represent nearly two-thirds of our global emissions.
Within the sport ecosystem, major organizations have agreed to champion UN guidelines on sport and climate action. But there are still too many recent examples of the industry shying away from its responsibility. The last FIFA World Cup hit a record-high level of carbon emissions for a single competition. In 2030, Asian winter athletes will be skiing in Saudi Arabia, while the Alps are preparing for snowless seasons.
Thankfully athletes have started voicing their concerns. Professional winter athletes called FIS out for climate inaction this winter, while others are simply refusing to travel by plane to major events.
Cognitive dissonance has peaked. A red line seems to have been crossed. But what are we going to do about it?
This is the question we have tried to find a concrete answer to at ChangeNOW, working with the 17 Sport team.
Part of the solution can be informed by basic behavioral science, which shows that the main factors of change are financial incentives and social pressure.
This is what the Sport Sponsors Climate Pledge is all about. By correlating for the first time sponsorship with planet-warming emissions reduction, we are seeking to leverage financial capability and social pressure to change behaviors in the near term, within the sport ecosystem and in society as a whole. With this pledge, we will drive capital towards best-in-class climate-friendly sports organizations and events, and away from those that pursue fame and fortune at the cost of everything else. This can be, we hope, a new virtuous paradigm for the world of sport.
Sport is truly powerful. It has the power to open our eyes to new realities, but to do so, it must set the standards we aim to adopt globally. If the sport ecosystem agrees to show the way forward – instead of ignoring these responsibilities – it could play a vital role in this race against climate change and accelerate exponentially our collective ability to respond to these global challenges.
In recent years, we went from collective denial to collective awareness. NOW is the time to move towards collective action. With and through the power of sport.
About the Sport Sponsors Climate Pledge:
This letter of commitment is addressed to sporting sponsors who have themselves set planet-warming emissions reduction objectives that are certified by an independent third party.
It aims to go further than existing charters, by correlating financial support in the sports world with a certified GHG footprint reduction aligned with the Paris Agreement.
The objective is simple: to have signatory companies commit to demanding that the sports events they wish to sponsor actually set carbon reduction objectives aligned with the Paris Agreement and certified by an independent third party.
The Sport Sponsors Climate Pledge uses the power of sponsorships to help sports organizations enter a clear phase of GHG emission reduction aligned with the Paris agreement. In the attached letter addressed to companies sponsoring the sports industry, signatories will commit to 3 things:
- From 2023, call the sports organizations they sponsor to set GHG emission reduction objectives aligned with a Paris aligned trajectory and validated by a third party by 2025.
- Support the industry with a framework and toolkit of concrete actions to reach their decarbonization objectives.
- From 2025, condition all of their sponsoring investments in the sport industry to organizations with a Paris aligned validated objective
Why does this pledge matter so much?
- By addressing directly sponsors and sport funders, this letter of commitment will drive funding in priority to the most climate responsible sports organizations
- It directly addresses the issue of emissions reduction in the sports and business world, and integrates the notion of independent third party certification
- By limiting the signature to companies that are themselves committed to a certified carbon reduction trajectory in line with the Paris Agreement, this letter also alerts sponsoring organizations on the importance and urgency of reducing emissions in the short term.
- By supporting and sharing this pledge with your community and stakeholders, you will contribute to the evolution of the sport industry’s standards and behaviours. More, you will contribute to changing norms globally, and accelerating the current pace of change.