Thursday August 12, 2021

With COP26 on the horizon, as well as the release of an alarming new report from the IPCC, the UK’s net zero target has become more urgent. This will mean more organisations will be expected to join in and stay ahead of changing policy. This is not lost on Premier League football clubs, many of whom have already committed to net zero targets. Some have even succeeded in achieving radical emission reductions.

There are numerous advantages to becoming a net zero football club. It provides a significant reputational boost and has the potential to cut long-term costs. It is clear that carbon reduction is quickly becoming a mandatory part of any business strategy.

We look at what it means to become a net zero football club and why it matters.

UN Sports for Climate Action Framework

The UN Sports for Climate Action Framework aims to support and guide sports organisations towards a more sustainable future. Similar to science-based targets, this is a voluntary framework setting out identifiable objectives for those looking to display climate leadership.

The framework sets out five principles for signatories:

  1. Promote environmental responsibility.
  2. Reduce overall climate impact.
  3. Educate for climate action.
  4. Promote sustainable consumption.
  5. Advocate for climate action.

The Premier League sustainability table

These principles have been reflected in a table published by BBC Sport and the Sport Positive Summit ranking Premier League clubs. In 2020, football teams at the top of this sustainability table included Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United, amongst others.

Points were awarded for:

  • Clean energy (2 points)
  • Energy efficiency (2 points)
  • Sustainable transport (2 points)
  • Single-use plastic reduction or removal (2 points)
  • Waste management (2 points)
  • Water efficiency (2 points)
  • Plant-based or low-carbon food options (3 points)
  • Communications & engagement (3 points)

One bonus point was available for each of the following:

  • The club actively engages fans towards positive behavioural change that reduces environmental impact in their own lives.
  • The club is a signatory to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework.
  • The club tracks and reports on the percentage of fans taking different modes of transport to games.

This criteria demonstrates the level of action football clubs are expected to take beyond simply offsetting their carbon emissions. By including energy, waste and water management as well as social engagement and scope 3 emissions reporting, these principles promote real change.

Where to start

Once you have pledged your commitment to net zero, it is important to spread the word. This can be a valuable boost to your reputation, but it also helps to get staff, suppliers and fans involved in making your business more sustainable.

The next step is to calculate your carbon footprint and map a path to net zero. This is where EIC comes in.

Our carbon team has worked closely with Premier League football clubs, helping them to calculate their emissions, mapping a route to net zero, and supporting them on their journey.

Our extensive list of sustainable services includes:

  • Sub-metering and monitoring
  • Carbon footprinting
  • Carbon compliance and management
  • Energy data insights and support
  • Support for efficiency measures
  • Onsite generation guidance
  • Green procurement
  • Energy and carbon reporting
  • Waste management
  • Sustainable water solutions
  • Support with installing EV infrastructure

Why become a net zero football club?

For decades, the climate emergency has been met with apathy and reluctance. Now, there is real momentum to take action before it is too late. Unfortunately, some organisations are continuing to do the bare minimum in an effort to appear greener without making significant changes. But this ‘greenwashing’ will not support their transition to a net zero economy. The businesses that will thrive are those that embrace efficiency, reducing consumption and waste from every corner of their organisation.

By doing this, not only will football clubs become part of a net zero future – they can become leaders too.

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