By Lew Blaustein, GreenSportsBlog
The UN’s Sports for Climate Action Framework has had a great month, USA-sports-wise. After gaining commitments from the New York Yankees and the NBA, the Framework added the University of Colorado’s athletics department, on of the leaders at the intersection of Green & College Sports, and AEG, the world’s #1 sports and entertainment venue owner/manager.
U OF COLORADO BECOMES FIRST COLLEGIATE ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT TO SIGN ON TO SPORTS FOR CLIMATE ACTION FRAMEWORK
The University of Colorado Buffaloes last week became the first college/university athletics department in the USA to commit to the UN’s Sports For Climate Action agreement and its two main objectives:
- Achieve a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change
- Leverage sports as a unifying tool to drive climate awareness and action among global citizens.
GreenSportsBlog readers will not be surprised.
The Buffaloes have been Green-College Sports trail blazers for more than a decade, dating back to the 2008 launch of the groundbreaking Ralphie’s Green Stampede sports-sustainability program. Since then, CU Athletics:
- Became the first major college sports program to implement a zero waste program at all of its game day venues.
- Earned LEED Platinum certification in 2016 for a major athletics facilities upgrade thanks in part to a net-zero-energy Indoor Practice Facility that boasts an 850-kilowatt rooftop solar array. Its basketball and volleyball practice facility was also built to LEED Platinum standards.
- Pushed to reduce the use of pesticides on turf fields.
“We’re thrilled to be an early adopter of the U.N. Sports for Climate Action Framework,” said CU Athletic Director Rick George. “This is consistent with the leadership and excellence expected by CU Boulder students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans as we confront the critical issue of climate change.”
Dave Newport, Director of CU’s Environmental Center, sees the Athletics Department’s decision to join the Framework as just one more example of college sports’ unique ability to accelerate the Green-Sports movement’s impact.
“All college sports are the ‘front porch of the university’ as the saying goes,” Newport noted. “When a college sports team goes big on green, they elevate and leverage that college’s or university’s very considerable educational, research, and cultural climate impacts.”
GSB’s Take: Hopefully, CU Athletics’ decision to sign on to the Sports For Climate Action Framework will lead other already-greening college athletics departments to do the same. College sports, with its many millions of fans, and universities more broadly, with their many thousands of students studying climate change and other environmental topics, form an ideal petri dish for Green-Sports innovation. I’m sure CU Athletics will benefit from being part of Sports for Climate Action, and Sports for Climate Action will certainly benefit from having CU Athletics on board.
SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT GIANT AEG ALSO JOINS “SPORTS FOR CLIMATE ACTION” ROSTER
The impact of getting the commitment of AEG, the world’s leading sports and live entertainment organization, to sign on to Sports For Climate Action, is much bigger than signing up one company.
That is because these AEG-owned teams also signed on, becoming the first in their respective leagues to do so:
- LA Kings/National Hockey League
- LA Galaxy/Major League Soccer
- Eisbären Berlin/Deutsche Eishockey Liga
- Ontario (California) Reign/American Hockey League
“AEG is proud to support the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework,” said John Marler, Vice President of Energy and Environment, AEG. “Given our recently adopted greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal – which aligns with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report on limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius – this is a natural next step for our sports teams that will complement our existing efforts to reduce our carbon emissions and to raise awareness about this critical global challenge.”
UN Head of Global Climate Action, Niclas Svenningsen happily welcomed AEG to the fold, noting that the company “has built significant global trust and moral leadership, and – because sports touch on every cross-section of society – drives positive change throughout the world.”
GSB’s Take: The most important nugget in the AEG-Sports For Climate Action story for me is the company’s decision to tie its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions goals to those of the Paris Climate Agreement’s target.
To be clear, if companies and governments only achieve the Paris targets, the world still will not have gotten to the levels of GHG reductions necessary.
But Paris is an important starting goal. The hope is that AEG and many other companies in all industries will not only make their Paris-based targets, but blow by them.