By Lew Blaustein, GreenSportsBlog
The UNFCCC’s Sports For Climate Action Framework has gotten some serious traction from the US sports world recently. Last month, the New York Yankees became the first pro sports team to sign on to the framework. And yesterday, the NBA became the first pro league to make the commitment.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced yesterday that the NBA had become the first pro sports league in the US to sign on to its Sports for Climate Action initiative.
Launched in December, the Framework’s aim is to bring the sports industry’s greenhouse emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement and inspire others to take ambitious climate action.
The Framework welcomes the NBA to its impressive list of A-List early adapters, including FIFA, the IOC, Fédération Française de Tennis, FFT, and the New York Yankees. Signatories commit to support Sport for Climate Action’s five core principles:
- 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
With its massive global fan base and its particular popularity among millennials and Gen-Z’ers, the NBA is a terrific get for the Framework. According to the league:
- The NBA has 150 million followers on social media
- One billion people around the world have access to the NBA Finals
- It is the most popular sports league in China, where over 300 million people play basketball
- The NBA, in collaboration with FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, will launch the Basketball Africa League (BAL) in 12 countries¹ in January
Signing on to the Sports for Climate Action Framework is certainly the biggest green step taken by the league to date. Its sustainability foundation has largely been built by forward-leaning teams and a smattering of eco-athletes:
- The Sacramento Kings’ Golden 1 Center became the world’s first arena to earn LEED Platinum certification.
- Portland’s Trail Blazers have hosted five “Green Games” per season at the Moda Center since 2015. The club invites its fans to take an active part in its efforts to be more environmentally conscious and to help reach a set of green goals (around energy, waste, food, water, and transportation) at the arena by 2025.
- Malcolm Brogdon, of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals-bound Milwaukee Bucks, along with four other NBA players, launched Hoops₂O to teach East Africans to dig wells for fresh water.
GSB’s Take: Kudos to the NBA for joining the Sports for Climate Action Framework. Given the NBA’s brand image — cool, progressive, cutting edge — GSB will explore in the coming months if this commitment will be the beginning of a full-throated approach to the climate change fight from commissioner Adam Silver, its teams, sponsors and more of its players. I may sound like a broken record but, per the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), humanity has 12 years to cut our carbon emissions by 45 percent in order to avoid the most calamitous effects of climate change.
Beyond basketball, in the parlance of playground hoops, the question becomes “Who’s Got Next?” — as in which leagues and events will join the NBA in signing on to the Sports For Climate Action Framework. I am surprised the NHL, the only league to issue a sustainability report — it has done so twice — has not joined the Framework. Hopefully that will change soon. The US Tennis Association, which has a very strong greening track record, seems like a logical signee sometime before the US Open starts in August.
You may ask, “What about the NFL, MLB, and MLS?”
Great question. Whaddya say, commissioners Roger Goodell (NFL), Rob Manfred (MLB), and Don Garber (MLS)?