The UN Climate Change ‘Sports for Climate Action’ framework explained

Keywords: Learn, Lifestyle, Policy

The UN Climate Change invites sports organizations and their stakeholders to join the new “Sports for Climate Action” movement, which aims to guide and support them in achieving global climate change goals.

By taking responsibility for their climate footprint and uniting behind a set of five core principles, sports organizations can demonstrate climate leadership, incentivize broader climate action, and help advance global efforts towards a low carbon economy as outlined in the Paris Agreement. View the five core principles in the Sports for Climate Action signatory booklet.

Sports for Climate Action objectives

Sports for Climate Action works towards two overarching goals:

  1. Achieving a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change, through commitments and partnerships according to verified standards, including measuring, reducing, and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the well below 2 degree scenario enshrined in the Paris Agreement;
  2. Using sports as a unifying tool to federate and create solidarity among global citizens for climate action.

Sports for Climate Action principles

The Sports for Climate Action Initiative offers sports organizations a platform to engage in consistent and supportive climate action. Participants can learn from each other, share best practices, develop new tools, and collaborate on mutual interests. By committing to five core principles, these organizations will integrate climate strategies into their operations, promoting a broader and long-lasting impact within the sports community. UN Climate Change will support this initiative through its Global Climate Action platforms, tracking progress, highlighting successes, and providing recognition while facilitating coordination within its resources and mandates.

Sports for Climate Action targets

The Sports for Climate Action signatories are actively integrating climate action into the sports industry, setting a future-focused agenda with global signatories joining daily. These commitments involve developing strategies to reduce GHG emissions, implementing immediate concrete actions, and ensuring transparency in progress. Many signatories have begun by mapping their GHG emissions, setting specific goals and net-zero targets, and advocating for a 1.5°C ambition globally.

Three years after the framework’s launch, signatories are now asked to commit to halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net-zero by 2040. These targets aim to position sports as a leader in climate action, with a focus on substantial emission reductions guided by best practices and scientific consensus. UN Climate Change will support signatories in achieving these goals, ensuring they follow credible, best practice guidance.

Sports for Climate Action targets and requirements

All sports are invited to adopt the following targets:

To ensure a consistent process and to incentivize action, all Sports for Climate Action signatories are requested to adhere to the following process:

  1. PLEDGE. Sports for Climate Action Commitment requires a pledge by the head of the organisation. Commitments to adopt the targets will also require a pledge at the head-of-organization level to reach (net)-zero by 2040.
  2. PLAN. To help facilitate action towards emissions reductions targets, participants of the Framework must issue plans on how they are aiming to achieve interim targets. As soon as possible but within 12 months of joining signatories will be expected to submit plans to UN Climate Change, explaining what actions will be taken toward achieving their climate pledges, especially in the short term (2030 target). These plans will often be iterative, especially when signatories first embark on their net zero transformation. For example, smaller entities or those facing resource and capacity constraints may require additional time to prepare a first GHG inventory.
  3. PROCEED WITH ACTION. All signatories are requested to take immediate action toward their climate goals, reflecting the urgency of rapid emissions reductions. Each organisation can choose how they will approach their emission reductions audit, it is well understood that not all signatories begin from the same starting line.
  4. REPORT. For credibility of commitments and to maintain signatory status, all signatories are to submit annual public reporting from 2021 onwards.

By adopting these targets, sports will officially join Race to Zero, a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.