Sport England to add climate conditions to funding requirements

Pictured: Flooding in November 2022. Image: Sport England

The funding body provides more than £300m of public money per year to organisations that facilitate grassroots sports provisions in local communities. These range from pitches and clubs to tournaments and training courses.

Sports backed by Sport England include cycling, rugby, cricket, football, swimming and athletics.

Sport England chair Chris Boardman has confirmed that the body will publish its first sustainability roadmap in the coming weeks. This will, he has told media representatives, include measures intended to catalyse decarbonisation at the many organisations which Sport England supports.

Boardman told the Guardian that Sport England will seek to update its code of conduct – which all organisations sign as a condition of receiving funding – to include a requirement for all bodies to outline climate emergency plans.

Such plans should include measures to reduce the carbon footprint of a particular venue or event, as well as plans for wider climate-related engagement and for improving adaptation and resilience.

Boardman said: “Fundamentally, we have got to move from a position of ‘inform and encourage’ to one of ‘enable and require’.

“That’s essentially what it is: to shift from talking about it, and using language that gives people a way out, to say: ‘No, we have to do this.’”

He emphasised the importance of plans not simply consisting of one or two long-term targets. Instead, they should include details of several smaller changes that can be taken in the near-term and medium-term, such as improving the energy efficiency of lighting and buildings.

Sport England will hold a series of meetings with some of its funding recipients in the coming months to consult on how it designs its sustainability strategy. The first will be held in November.

Boardman said: “Some sports are already leading the charge and they will help others tackle what is the most complex and important challenge we have ever faced.

“This isn’t easy but climate change doesn’t care.

“The status quo can’t be an option. We will tackle this seriously, quickly and most importantly, together.”

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