20 pledges for 2020: Why it’s time for sport to stop ignoring its impact on the environment

Jack de Menezes
Arsenal have previously travelled by air to games as close as Norwich regardless of the impact on the environment: Getty

In 2020 The Independent will be doing more than ever before to try and make the world a better place. When it comes to sport, that’s easier said than done.

Sport is our escape, a way to block out the realities of everyday life for 90 minutes, or a few hours, maybe even an entire day. It is supposed to be enjoyed even in defeat, and yet not even sport is exempt from the greatest threat to humankind today: global warming and the negative impact of climate change.

But not even sport can continue to ignore the perils that will come to threaten its very existence unless something is done to change the path it is on. After all, how will our children and grandchildren play football, rugby or cricket if there are no parks left, or will the next Lewis Hamilton be uncovered if we can’t find a sustainable way to maintain motorsport without the use of oil, petrol and even electricity?

This year we will be delving into how sport affects the surrounding environment, exposing the shocking truths of how it is damaging the world as we know it and highlighting the ways people are trying to bring change for the better.

Why will we be doing this? Whether your outlook on global warming is akin to Greta Thunberg or Donald Trump, the truth is that sport has one of the biggest impacts on climate change. Whether it’s the Arsenal squad using a private jet to fly to Norwich, or single-use plastic being used at just about every stadium across the globe, there are endless examples of ignorance when it comes to helping the environment.

Formula E is doing more than most to protect the world around us (Getty)

There will be positives, too. What is Formula E doing to inspire change not just in motorsport but in our everyday commute? What inspired Forest Green Rovers to become the world’s first 100 per cent vegan football club? And are extreme adrenaline sports the answer – they tend to go hand in hand with being at one with the world around us in an effort not to damage it.

And if we are to cover all areas of this subject, we will have to take a close look at ourselves too: the media. Is it right that journalists travel all year round aboard the most environmentally damaging transport available in automotive vehicles and aeroplanes, throwing away countless notebooks instead of recycling? If we are to ask the difficult questions, we have to be prepared to answer them too.