As the world combats climate change, we all need to think about where we can make changes to become more sustainable. This includes within the sporting world, below we will outline the top four environmentally damaging aspects of sport:
Air pollution from transport
Millions of fans flock to sporting events worldwide each year, whether by car, train, bus or plane. Each of these methods of transportation pollute our atmosphere as they release greenhouse gases, unless they run on electricity from renewable energy sources.
On average, an electric vehicle will produce 53 grams (g) of CO2 equivalents per passenger kilometre (km), a bus produces 105g of CO2 equivalents per passenger km, a petrol car produces 192g of CO2 equivalents per passenger km and a domestic flight produces 255g of CO2 equivalents per passenger km.
Air pollution not only comes from the fans, athletes and staff travelling to the venues, it can also come from the sport itself. Skydiving and motor-racing are two of the biggest air polluters due to the nature of the sport.
The stadiums, arenas and venues used for sporting events need large amounts of energy, to run the lights, control the temperature, power screens, broadcast events and to allow the sale of food and drink. Due to the size of these venues a large amount of energy is necessary. In most cases this energy is generated through the burning of fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels are the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases when burnt, therefore, sporting events produce a significantly large amount of greenhouse gases that adds to their overall carbon footprint.
There are cases of venues beginning to rely on renewable energy, however, it isn’t happening at a rate quick enough to make a significant difference. Those in charge of sporting events need to be switching to renewable energy to lower their overall emissions.
Waste is an inevitable problem at sporting events due to the large volumes of people that attend. At the Superbowl in the US, roughly 40 tonnes of waste are left behind at the event, and a large amount of this in non-recyclable.
The UK Government are urging for the sporting industry in the UK to encourage the reduction of plastic waste at their events. In 2021, new guidelines were put in place to help lower the amount of plastic that enters sporting venues and reduce what gets left behind as waste.
Waste isn’t just left behind by those that watch the sport, but also those that partake in it. There has been anger within those that go mountaineering as our mountains are being turned into landfill sites due to those that leave rubbish behind. Currently, 11 tonnes of waste, including sports equipment that has been abandoned, and litter has been removed.
Large amounts of water are used every year to keep pitches and golf courses in the correct condition for a sporting event to take place. During the English Premier League, 20,000 litres of water was needed each day to maintain the perfect condition for a single football pitch. These figures are similar to those for rugby and cricket.
Golf is another sport that uses a significant amount of water to maintain its grass. Golf courses are usually much bigger in comparison to a football pitch, and they can use thousands of gallons of water each day. Within the UK alone, there are roughly 3,000 golf courses, and in the US, they have 16,000.