Royal Society of Medicine Trustee Professor Linda Luxon examines the role health professionals are playing in tackling the defining public health challenge of the 21st century: climate change.
Four Premier League clubs taking climate action
Spring is traditionally the season where the Premier League hots up, and fans around the world realize if their team will be challenging for the title, fighting relegation, or staying mired in mid-table mediocrity.
Yet off the pitch a more important race is taking place – the race towards climate neutrality. The UN Sports for Climate Action Framework supports and guides sports actors in order to achieve climate change goals. So far 194 teams and organizations have signed up to the Framework, with the goal to “achieve a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change.” Key to this is measuring, reducing and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the key objective of the Paris Agreement, which is to hold the global average temperature rise to as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.
So who are the most proactive Premier League clubs when it comes to taking climate action? Here are four of the best.
The London-based club has been something of a Premier League environmental trailblazer, having switched to 100% green electricity back in 2016. It was also the first Premier League club to sign up for the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework. Arsenal’s training ground in London Colney features a water recycling system, which resulted in more than 4.5 million litres of water being recycled in the last year alone. The club also planted more than 29,000 trees creating the Colney Wood. What’s more, they installed automated LED lighting at all club sites and introduced water dispensers, saving an estimated 150,000 single-use plastic bottles every year. While it remains to be seen if Mikel Arteta can change the club’s fortunes on the pitch, off the pitch they are most certainly on the right track.
Tottenham has signed up to the UN’s Sports for Climate Action framework, which wasn’t a surprise given the North London-based club has long been a frontrunner in climate action. It is a founding member of the 10:10 initiative, which calls on individuals and organizations to cut their emissions by 10% in a year. The club is also a founding member of Count Us In, which aims to mobilize a billion people to take 16 steps to eliminate carbon pollution.
The current Premier League champions have been as progressive off the pitch as they have been successful on it. As well as being a signatory to Sports for Climate Action, the club launched the Red Way last month, a new initiative that pulls together all its sustainability activity. All of the club’s energy comes from renewable sources, all the club’s catering packaging is 100% biodegradable, while rainwater is collected and reused to water the club’s training pitches. The club also planted 653 trees and 1.5km of hedging at its new AXA Training Centre, while they have offset 435 metric tonnes of CO2e.
The latest Premier League club to join the UNFCCC’s Sports for Climate Action Framework, Southampton launched its sustainability strategy, The Halo Effect, last month. As Tim Greenwell, Chief Legal and Risk Officer at Southampton FC, said: “As a Premier League football club, it is important that we use our platform to inspire positive change to ensure a sustainable future. We’re proud of the work we’ve already undertaken to address our own environmental impact but we know there is more that the club can do to protect our planet.” The club has also pledged to plant 250 trees for every academy player that makes their debut. Definitely a club on the rise on and off the pitch.
Of course, they are not the only Premier League clubs making great strides towards climate neutrality, as this Premier League sustainability table shows. The table reflects efforts in eight categories, and this year’s table shows London clubs leading the way with Tottenham Hotspur first with 21 points, closely followed by Arsenal, Brighton and Manchester United, all on 20 points.
So, what can you do to help? If you support a football club (whether a Premier League club or your local village team), ask them what they are doing to reduce their emissions; make suggestions, be proactive and remember that every little helps.
“I have no doubt we will find the answers but only if we are bold enough to talk about things which are more inconvenient and not brush them under the carpet. We will only fight this fight if we keep our voices as clamorous as possible and talk truth to power. Only then.”
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