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Big picture: the impacts of sport on climate change

Preliminary estimates of annual carbon emissions from the sport sector suggest they could be as high as 350 million tCO2e. However, little is known about where those emissions come from, how they are calculated, and what is being done to reduce this footprint. Here, for the first time, the authors undertake a systematic, meta-analysis of peer-reviewed and gray literature on the impacts of sport emissions on climate. The findings indicate that research in this space took off in 2009, and focuses largely on mega events, and four sports which account for 70% of the articles: soccer, skiing, golf, and running. The global south is vastly underrepresented, with only 7% of all research happening in Africa, South America, or Australasia. Most research focuses on carbon footprints of sports facilities and franchises, and calculating emissions from events. Some have begun exploring carbon offsetting practices in the sport sector, though this research remains underdeveloped.

"Perhaps the time has come for a new Olympic motto. Rather than “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (“Faster, Higher, Stronger”), we now need “Tardius, Proprius, Leviora” (“Slower, Closer, Lighter”) footprints."

CITE: Wilby, R., Orr, M., Depledge, D., Giulianotti, R., Havenith, G., Kenyon, J., Matthews, T., Mears, S., Mullan, D., & Taylor, L. The impacts of sport on climate: measurement, mitigation, and making a difference. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1519(1), 20-33.


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