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Study calls on sports to end sponsorships with high carbon polluters, including the travel sector

A new study has called on sporting entities to end their sponsorship deals with companies and organisations that are contributing heavily to the climate crisis.

Study calls on sports to end sponsorships with high carbon polluters, including the travel sector

The report, carried out by the New Weather Institute, the Possible climate charity and the Rapid Transition Alliance, identified 258 sponsorship deals across 13 sports globally with companies promoting 'high-carbon products, services and lifestyles.'

Of the sports analysed, which included cycling, athletics and motorsport, the study found that football had the most high-carbon sponsorship deals, with report unveiling 57 partnerships with companies in the oil and gas, automotive and airline sectors.

The study, titled ‘Sweat not oil: Why sports should drop advertising and sponsorship from high carbon polluters’, described how the car industry was the most prevalent high-carbon sponsor with 199 deals, followed by the airline industry with 63 partnerships.

Emirates airline was identified as the second largest high-carbon sponsor with 29 deals across sport, only falling shortly behind Toyota with 31 sponsorship deals.

Several sporting organisations across the world have committed to targets of becoming carbon neutral in the future, namely the IOC and Formula 1.

In order to keep on top of those goals, the study calls on sports to review their sponsorships with companies whose services contribute to climate change.

‘Many high carbon companies controversially sign onto scientifically dubious carbon offsetting programmes, while keeping their core business practices largely unchanged,’ the study said. ‘It’s equally questionable for sports organisations to claim climate neutrality while accepting money from companies who are directly undermining their climate commitments.

‘If global sports is to take the issue of climate breakdown seriously, it must be consistent and coherent and review its partnerships with organisations whose practices go against their efforts to safeguard the future of our planet.’

The study goes on to outline several policies that sports can adopt to achieve their sustainability targets, including positively screening corporate sponsors and rejecting offers from companies promoting high carbon lifestyles, products and services.

The study outlined several policies for sport to adopt, which included setting clear annual sustainability targets, reducing reliance on air travel and cancel or postponing any sports events or tours after 2030 that are not zero carbon.

Author: Jake Wilkin