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Sport England to Require Sports to Decarbonise

Chris Boardman, image by TFGM
Chris Boardman, image by TFGM

Sports will have to decarbonise if they are to receive funding from Sport England.

That’s the message from Sport England’s Chair Chris Boardman, who says that the funding body will move from a position of ‘inform and encourage’ to one of ‘enable and require’.

‘That’s essentially what is is: to shift from talking about it, and using language that gives people a way out, to say, “No, we have to do this”.’

chris boardman

The status quo is no longer an option, according to Boardman.

Sport England invests around £300 million of public money each year. Recipients include British Cycling, England Netball, the Rugby Football Union, the England & Wales Cricket Board, Swim England and English Athletics.

Smaller sums go to hundreds of grassroots sports associations.

Boardman said:

‘Sport England is an organisation that has huge influence. We deal with hundreds of partners, who deal with millions of people. So we have a responsibility to do something, and we are going to. I feel both good about it and quite scared at the same time, because it is so big’.

chris boardman

Meetings with sports will begin next month. The plan is that Sport England’s Code of Conduct, which all organisations sign before they get funding, will include a requirement to set out a plan to fight global heating.

Some sports are already taking steps. Swimming pools are being made more efficient, and the LTA is replacing all its lightbulbs with LEDs.

3G artificial grass pitches are known to be bad for the environment due to their microplastics, and an alternative will need to be found.

Boardman says that Sport England will set targets and track progress, which is what he did as an athlete.

He spoke at the Blue Earth Summit in Bristol yesterday, and pointed out that climate change negatively impacts levels of physical activity. Flooding and extreme heat both stop people taking part in sports.

Environmental sustainability and Net Zero are part of the government’s new Get Active strategy. – although you have to wonder how sincere the government is about getting people active given that it has attempted to launch a culture war against active travel.

Government should be consistent in pursuing evidence-based policy in the public interest. Instead, the current government is all over the place and sending out contradictory signals.

At least Chris Boardman is consistent in his rational and evidence-based approach. We are lucky to have him as a force for good in public life.

Sport England to Require Sports to Decarbonise