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Sport England Launches £45 Million Initiative to Combat Climate Change





Sport England has unveiled its inaugural sustainability strategy, dubbed "Every Move," committing £45 million to environmental projects to foster climate action and bolster resilience against extreme weather. The plan launched yesterday seeks to encourage greater public engagement with nature, rehabilitate flood-damaged sports facilities, and support decarbonisation initiatives within sports clubs.


As a critical aspect of the new strategy, Sport England has declared that by 2027, all of its 130 partners, including the national governing bodies for all major sports, must implement comprehensive sustainability plans as a prerequisite for funding.


Furthermore, the strategy sets an ambitious goal for Sport England to cut its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, with a long-term target of reaching net zero by 2040. This objective encompasses national sports centers and extends to supply chains.


Additionally, starting in June of this year, the strategy imposes a new requirement for all sports organisations to establish recycling programs for end-of-life artificial grass pitches as part of the conditions for receiving funding.


The £45 million from the National Lottery will finance various green initiatives, focusing mainly on climate adaptation and resilience. This investment complements an additional £80 million from a joint venture between Sports England and the government through the Swimming Pools Support Fund, which aims to enhance hundreds of swimming pools' environmental and financial sustainability nationwide.


"What makes our Every Move strategy unique is that we make the clear link between participation levels, inequality and climate change," said Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive at Sport England.


"We will lead, inspire and support the sector to become environmentally sustainable, enabling greater opportunity for all people to participate in sport and physical activity, whatever their background, both now and in the future."


Sport England, supported by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has highlighted the increasingly adverse effects of extreme weather on sports and physical activities. Recent studies commissioned by the organisation reveal that 60% of adults and children report that extreme weather conditions have hindered their ability to engage in physical activities, including disruptions such as the cancellation of PE lessons, affecting one in four children.


Furthermore, a sector-wide consultation revealed that 40% of sports organisations are experiencing interruptions in their activities due to weather-related issues. Despite these challenges, 55% of these organisations identify a lack of funding as the primary obstacle to implementing necessary actions.


The consultation also indicated that environmental initiatives are now a top funding priority for sports organisations, with 80% of respondents expressing a desire for their sports bodies to pursue environmental sustainability combatively.


Chris Boardman, the chair of Sport England and a former Olympic track cyclist, emphasised the tangible impact of climate change on sports and exercise opportunities. He expressed certainty about the ongoing adverse effects, underscoring the urgency of addressing these challenges through robust and proactive environmental strategies.


"Extreme weather is increasingly making it difficult for us to live healthy, active lives by creating a 'doom loop' where people become less motivated and more fearful of injury, with sporting opportunities increasingly cancelled and disrupted," he said. "Without change now, the government's target to get 3.5 million more people active by 2030 is very much in jeopardy - and our children will be the ones to suffer most."


Boardman highlighted FA estimates that 120,000 football games are set to be cancelled each year across the country. A third of all community pitches are already unplayable for two months of the year due to flooding, a situation set to get worse as climate change increases.


"If places to play are unavailable, people will go and do something other than sport and physical activity, leading to small clubs going under and vital community organisations disbanding," said Boardman. "As a contributor to climate change through major events and travel, it's time for us to become part of the solution."


Sports Minister Stuart Andrew said all organisations - including sports clubs - had a part to play in reducing their impact on the planet and adapting to climate change.


"This commitment from Sport England will help to maintain access to facilities so that as many people as possible are able to keep fit and healthy as we strive to achieve our ambition to get 3.5 million more people active by 2030," he said.

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