IOC President Thomas Bach has urged more sports bodies to join the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework and commit to meaningful climate action. He was speaking at the Sport Positive Summit, the annual gathering of Framework signatories, of which there are currently more than 270.
Launched in December 2018 by UN Climate Change, in collaboration with the IOC, the Sports for Climate Action Framework aims to set the course for the sports world to address climate change through concrete commitments and partnerships.
President Bach thanked and congratulated the organisations that have already signed up, but said this was only the start.
“We are in sport, and we know that we do not want to rest on past success or lower our ambition,” he told the Sport Positive Summit in a pre-recorded video on Tuesday 28 September.
“This is why I urge even more sports organisations to join this Framework and to commit to meaningful climate action now.”
Flooded pitches, extreme heat, wildfire smoke, coastal erosion and a lack of snow for winter sports are already disrupting sport. And while major sporting events have the responsibility to reduce their climate impact, they also offer an opportunity to engage billions of people and encourage them to take more action.
“When we think of sport, climate change may not be the first thing that comes to mind,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, who also addressed the summit via a video message.
“But if you think of leadership, dedication, innovation and teamwork, sport fits the description. These are the same qualities we need to tackle our shared climate emergency. […] This industry has the ability to transform business as usual by taking concrete action and mobilising communities around the world to do the same.”
“It is no exaggeration to say that the climate crisis will make or break the future of our planet,” said President Bach. “This crisis is a call to action for everyone – also for all of us, in the world of sport.
“As the leader of the Olympic Movement, the IOC has a responsibility to be a part of the solution. And we have a responsibility to be ambitious about leading the change in the sporting world because it is clear that we are now in a race against time towards a climate-positive world.”
In line with the Paris Agreement, the IOC has committed to reduce its direct and indirect emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. And while it is already a carbon-neutral organisation, it is committed to becoming climate positive by 2024.
As part of this commitment, the IOC will create an Olympic Forest, with around 355,000 native trees planted across Mali and Senegal. The effort will help remove more carbon from the atmosphere than the IOC emits, while contributing to Africa’s Great Green Wall. More than planting trees, the Olympic Forest will contribute to increasing the local communities’ food and economic security, in an area which has experienced increased droughts and floods.
Upcoming editions of the Olympic Games have also committed to carbon neutrality, while Paris 2024 aims to be the first Olympic Games to contribute positively to the climate. From 2030, all Olympic Games are required to be climate positive.
“Sport depends on a healthy planet,” said Bach. “Everyone has a role to play.”
The two-day event, taking place on 28 and 29 September, encourages participants to sign up to the Sports for Climate Action Framework, measure their organisational impact, put a climate plan in place, and engage with fans and communities to make positive behavioural changes.