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  • Writer's pictureNyayshastram

Environment Sustainability and Sports: Does Climate Change Influence the Sports Industry?

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

Aniket Dutta


The sports industry transcends all barriers of culture, race, region and religion, becoming the single-most unifier by not only bringing the world together but also influencing the same. This unifying power of the industry can be utilised to promote a healthy environment, which becomes vital in times where climate change is a growing concern. This article provides a multi-dimensional relationship between the sports industry and environment, addressing questions such as, ‘How can environment sustenance be promoted through sports?’, ‘Is the sports industry itself making optimum use of natural resources and if not are there ways to promote greening of the sports industry?’. The answers to such questions have been provided through a detailed analysis of guidelines by the International Olympic Committee, and conferences such as The Leadership in Greening the Sports Industry. Further, this article has sought to implement the provisions of the Paris Agreement to the sports industry through commonalities with the aims of the Centre for Sport and Human Rights. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution provides citizens with the right to life, including a right to a clean and healthy environment. This fundamental right lies in the domain of natural law, implying that it is universal and absolute. However, there is more to the greening of sports movement than the jurisprudence behind it. This paper proves how the economy of the sports industry can escalate through the greening movement. Further, solutions to climate change problems which the sports industry can effectively adapt, such as tradeable permits, have been suggested. The aim of this article has been to identify the connection between sports and climate change by establishing how the two impact adversely and how they can be used to resolve issues arising in the other’s domain through legal implementation.


Sports is the connecting fabric across the world, which reflects the uncanny possibility of unification of diversity in the healthiest way possible. However, it is only healthy as long as it has a positive impact on more than one dimension. Here, we know that it promotes health and fitness of an individual but is it healthy for the environment? The sports industry and environment can hardly seem to coincide, but the two are so interdependent that they cannot thrive without each other. For instance, a slight increase in the global sea levels have the potential of putting all golf courses on the coastal side in jeopardy.[1]

On the other hand, environmental sustainability is essential for obvious reasons, but its role in the sports industry is all the more reason for promoting sustenance across the world. Further, by establishing a two-way development relationship, economic goals can be achieved too.

Why should the Sports Industry be Concerned?

The Story of Phillipides- The apocryphal story of Philippides, depicts why the sports industry should be concerned, who supposedly ran without a break from Marathon to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians in the heat of summer in 490 BC and is said to have shouted “We have won!” on arrival. He then dropped dead.[2]

The sole objective of sports is not just profit-making. It also includes the overall human resource development in literal terms. For this, the players must be in a position to push their bodies to the maximum limits and do so in a healthy manner. It is not achieved only through the consumption of a healthy balanced meal but is heavily dependent on the climatic conditions which the players are exposed to. The stamina, state of mind and the tolerance capacity, including the period of exhaustion are influenced highly by the climatic conditions. Further, some sports are dependent on the climate to the extent of determining life and death conditions, such as racing.

Cold weather sports industry such as the ski industry reflect the impact of changing weather. These industries contribute to much of the economy of the countries hosting them. For instance, these sports contribute to approximately $12 billion to the United States’ economy every year and employ over 200,000 people.[3] Global warming causing the increasing temperature in such places cause artificial snow making costlier every year. A high percentage of the budget of these countries hosting is concentrated more on maintaining suitable conditions than an actual promotion of the sport or its players. The impact of climate is not only in winter sports but overall outdoor sports for safe, fair competition surfaces and better athlete performance.

An instance to prove the encumbrances caused by bad weather on sports is when the Australian military had to move tons of snow by truck and compact it by stepping on it on competition sites.[4] At this rate, favourable weather is going to become a costly resource globally. The effect of unfavourable heat conditions lead even severe in warm-weather sports as here; the consequences include not only the impossibility of the sport being played but an adverse health condition of the players. It is best seen in the Australian Open of 2014 where players suffered from hallucinations, vomiting and fainting.[5] Further, it has been observed that in very dry conditions, the human body can be active up to a much higher rate than if there exists a humid condition.[6] Hence, the impact of weather on sports is of paramount.

Human Rights: the right to clean environment has been held as a fundamental right to life under Article 21 of citizens.[7] It is especially violated when citizens face adverse health consequences as a result of dehydration, exhaustion and excessive hypoglycaemia and perspiration. Preservation of third-generation human rights is directly in question in such scenarios.

Snow as a Currency

Artificial creation of snow is a cumbersome task and one that falls heavily on the economics of the winter sports industry. It is not so only in the professional sporting industry but also recreational sporting where several visitors and adventure sports players visit. If a class of activities can be identified in which activity-level changes by potential injurers appear to be the most efficient method of accident prevention, there is a strong argument for imposing strict liability on the people engaged in those activities. And, conversely, if there is a class of activities in which activity-level changes by potential victims are the most efficient method of accident prevention, there is a strong argument for no liability - a point illustrated by the application of the assumption of risk to participation in dangerous sports.[8] In 2014, at the World Cup in Brazil, FIFA (Federation International de Football Association) was sued by the players’ union over the kick-off times for matches starting at 1 pm local time. FIFA, the game’s governing body, says it makes its decisions about starting times using historical data (and not, of course, the best time for TV viewers around the world). So, places such as Manaus and Fortaleza with the highest historical average temperatures did not have any matches that started around midday, even as the tournament was played during Brazil’s winter in the southern hemisphere.[9] The visibility and market power of major sporting tournaments, codes and clubs, and professional sportspeople, earn millions of dollars. Media rights, sponsorships and partnerships form a significant portion of the revenue stream for professional, as well as local, sporting events, leagues, clubs and individual athletes. But as sporting events look ahead to more sales and profits, they also face significant challenges posed by extreme weather events, like drought, heatwaves, floods and severe storms. Sport contributes over $12.5 billion to the economy. It employs 75,000 people. Sport also contributes to the economy by making Australians healthier. Being active makes for more productive workers, according to Frontier Economics, who found that sport in people’s lives helps boost the GDP by as much as 1 per cent of GDP ($12 billion) per year.[10] In Tokyo, the site of the next Olympics in 2020, following a summer that reached a scorching 41.1°C (106°F) at one point, organisers are already talking about spraying the roads with a heat-blocking nano-mist to allow the iconic marathon to take place.

In their joint position paper and another publication, more than 20 expert scientists from 14 research institutions for the first time summarise the current state of research. They confirm key statements for the Alpine region and the low mountain ranges in Germany, point out knowledge deficits, and recommend actions.

"Discussion on climate change and its impacts need an objective, understandable presentation of facts. We have succeeded in formulating a joint position and clear statements together with other researchers from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland,"

says Professor Karl Friedrich Ziegahn, Head of Division IV – Natural and Built Environment of KIT.[11]

As a consequence of warming, the natural snow cover used for snow sports will retreat to medium altitudes in the Alpine region and the low mountain ranges in the long term (by 2100). The duration of the snow cover will be shorter by weeks in late winter and by a little less in early winter. The months of January and February, the most important months for winter tourism, will not be so much affected in these areas. Also, the climatological framework conditions for technical snow production will change. The number and duration of potential snow times will decrease.[12]

Statements relating to the near future (until 2050) are more difficult to make, as the partly high natural climate variability superimposes the long-term trend. These strong fluctuations may also superimpose the gradual increase in mean temperature by 2050.[13]

The combination of variability and constant warming, however, will lead to new maximum temperatures. Precipitation variability will be very high, as a result of which it is difficult to identify clear trends.[14]

In parallel, winter sports, together with the related products and offers, will further develop under the impact of climate change. Regional adaptation of winter sports to climate change will not take place in a vacuum, but be embedded in dynamic processes on various levels of regional sectors and markets.[15]

How does the Sports Industry Cause Climate Change?

There exists an inherent conflict between sports and the environment. The need for new ground, more resources and especially the non-renewable resources are only some of the ways that sports industry contributes to climate change. The extent and intensity of use of these resources lead to rapid depletion over a short period. For example, the recent problem which arose in the Wankhede Stadium of Mumbai where portable groundwater being used for the maintenance of cricket grounds during conditions where the entire city was facing water issues was a challenge through public interest litigation in the Supreme Courts. Following this, the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation submitted its policy of restraining water supply to the fields for the purpose, and this has been observed in the ongoing Indian Premier League matches too.[16] Unnecessary soil exchanges, energy consumption and water utilisation, lead to unreasonable depletion. A probable solution for this is to limit the number of players, land space consumption and resource utilisation via legislations. Further, the impact on the economy of the concerned industry can be inferred very simply from what Jamie Andrews Britton, chairman of Bromley Health United Football Club said:

“If we’re not supplying children for the club academies because they’re not able to play regularly over the season then eventually we won’t see the players feeding through to bigger clubs and the national squad.”

For what reason wouldn't we be able to manage without Sports?

Sport is a vital resource of human life embedded in the culture of human civilisation all over the globe. The motivations of this are as follows:

a) Physical Benefits – Sports can make an individual more grounded and more advantageous, adding to bring down obesity rates. Practising consistently through sports projects could add to better heart and lung function. Figuring out how to play sports as a tyke may persist into being a progressively dynamic grown-up.

b) Importance of healthy socialising – It has been found through research that youngsters who play sports are less inclined to become drug addicts and smokers. For youngsters, playing sports can help create companionships focused on sound, sheltered and charming exercises. Sports can especially profit low-salary people, who probably won't have the cash or assets to associate outside of playing sports, as indicated by[17].

c) Contributing to scholastic achievement - People who play sports will, in general, perform better at school. They likewise have lower dropout rates and a superior chance of getting into college[18].

d) Building character esteems - Sports likewise assume the essential job of giving character esteems. Playing sports can help show trustworthiness, collaboration and reasonable play. Figuring out how to pursue runs and regarding colleagues and rivals can likewise be helpful. Encountering the role of a graceful victor and failure shows individuals being unassuming, and rivalry by and large can teach people dignity, certainty and overseeing pressure. Taking on driving jobs inside your group can likewise teach leadership, as indicated by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

Difficulties forced on games because of environmental change

Sports is about test and assurance to extend oneself as far as possible. The human body can test its points of confinement partially just relying on a few elements, the environment being one of them. The issue of environmental change is representing a test in sports interest by compromising wellbeing and prosperity. For example, the initial two matches of the Quadrangular Series between the groups of India and South Africa were dropped because of nasty climate. It should draw our consideration towards the strange cancelling of matches in a few other comparative cases. It is a result of environmental change. Studies uncover that the prompt reason for it is the expanding discharge of greenhouse gases the nation over. In this way, the need of great importance is to address the issue of environmental change.

Studies to assess the effect of environmental change

"water all over."

The laws of physical science reveal to us that a hotter environment can hold more dampness, expanding the recurrence and quality of extraordinary precipitation occasions. Occasional differences in precipitation imply that different sports are affected in different ways. For example, the third round-robin match of the Nehru Cup International football competition among Lebanon and Sri Lanka was delayed due to substantial downpours. Inordinate precipitation causing flood-like circumstance crumbles the circumstance much more.

"Dry yet burning summers."

Increment in temperature amid summers cause issues of lack of hydration among sportsmen bringing about decreased participation amid summers. It is amid the summers when the expanded dimensions of ozone-depleting substance emanation cause most extreme harm and force the greatest danger to sports exercises.

Contextual analysis:

1. Football

Football is one of our country's most noteworthy creations. The game that began in the eighteenth century with whole towns occupied with severe fights against one another currently contacts each country brings uncommon quantities of people together. More individuals watched the last FIFA World Cup Final than whatever other occasions that year.

Bromley Heath United Case

Expanded precipitation and outrageous climate occasions related to environmental change might be a defining factor in the suitability of grassroots football. The effects of environmental change on football are one of the drivers towards more noteworthy maintainability in the amusement. Bromley Heath United Football Club, established in 1966, is the most seasoned junior football club in Bristol. More than 350 youthful footballers, from 6 to 18 years old, consistently play at their home ground of Pomphrey Hill, five miles from the focal point of Bristol. The club is a feeder for foundations affiliated to proficient football clubs including Bristol City and Southampton.

It has been seen that ten years back, a couple of matches used to get dropped however starting at now, matches have been dropped for right around a month. In 2015-16 because of overwhelming precipitation, 12 matches in a month were dropped. It prompted a further deficit in the net income since, amid the winters, the pitches were unplayable.

2. Cricket

“Losing so much cricket is a county’s worst nightmare – it affects the club at every level,” -Dan Cherry, Head of Operations

Of all the major pitch sports, cricket will be hardest hit by environmental change. Regardless of whether Mumbai, Melbourne, Antigua or Lancashire, cricket is defined as a rule by the climatic conditions. On the off chance that they change, so does the substance of the game.

Glamorgan Cricket Club Case

As of late, this Cardiff-based club has been genuinely affected by elevated amounts of precipitation and outrageous climate.

Environmental change is turning into an enormous factor. If we don't pay attention to it, it will essentially change the game.

Marylebone Cricket Club has spearheaded ecological manageability in professional sports. Lord's was the first national venue to utilise a sustainable supervisor, and its vitality and waste arrangements are currently turning into the standard for significant stadia.

A portion of the maintainability measures presented by MCC include[19]:

i. 100% of the ground's vitality needs are sourced from wind control, with extra sun-based PV, sun oriented and ground-source heat siphon choices in the new Warner Stand.

ii. Basic apparatus, for example, leaf blowers, and carriages are for the most part electric, dispensing with polluting gear.

iii. All new gear inside the ground is the low-vitality rating, and motion sensor technology is utilised in zones, for example, restrooms, passageways, kitchens and small rooms.

iv. Staff add to a progressively supportable culture through feasible printing activities, isolated containers and restricting single-utilise plastic

v. With a standout amongst the most far-reaching reusing frameworks of any national wearing scene, Lord's conveys zero waste to landfill

vi. Unused consumable food – constantly occasional and as privately sourced as could reasonably be expected – is conveyed to the individuals who need it in the encompassing network utilizing nearby philanthropies, with food waste isolated and dispatched for anaerobic digestion.

How do we Achieve Sustainability via Sports?

One simple strategy of advertising and promoting new green initiatives through big tournaments can in itself lead to more contribution in the capital and human investment for promotion and implementation of technological advancements for efficient utilisation of resources such as patent rights and sponsorship. Further, utilisation of sources like solar panels to power stadiums is not only efficient but also economical as seen in Golden 1 Credit Union Centre by the Sacramental Kings.[20] Further, Manchester City has built a stadium which absorbs carbon dioxide and produces zero waste. Manchester United has adopted rainwater harvesting and energy-from-waste methods.[21]

A process known as adaptive scenario planning will document the outcomes of the various projects and evaluate their success. Over time, a suite of responses to climate change applicable across Western Australia will be available for the industry to apply.[22]

This systematic approach will allow a timely review of the resource implications of actions undertaken within the framework. It will facilitate the orderly provision of resources together with a clear identification of contingencies required should worse-than-predicted climate change impacts be experienced.[23]

The best model for strategic management in the face of complexity and uncertainty will be an industry framework for climate change. Early intervention through strategies, policies and actions will provide cost-effective solutions. The industry must work in partnership to ensure these strategies work together and do not compete. Urban green spaces must be recognised as underpinning the very fabric of our sport, leisure and recreational industries and that water used to maintain them is considered to be necessary. Green spaces also mitigate the impacts of climate change. As industry practitioners, we must demonstrate maximum water-use efficiency across all sectors and develop and maintain a culture of excellence and continuous improvement across all industry sectors.[24]

Tradable Permit System

When we talk about ecological change, the principal thing that rings a bell is the expanding dimensions of pollution. To manage these pollution levels, institutionary systems have been sought for. The instruments should not to be obsolete and hence, must most likely collaborate with the dynamic condition.

A tradable license is a device that enables a market to coordinate ecological endeavours where a market normally does not exist. It is a productive strategy for managing pollution outflows. Likewise, a three-fold procedure shall be pursued.

To start with, researchers give data and suggestions concerning the physical effects of a pollutant and nature's ability to ingest it. For instance, if current discharges of 1,200,000 tons of carbon counterparts are observed to be harmful to the earth, established researchers can prescribe restricting emanations to 1,000,000 tonnes(hypothetically).

Second, the legislature needs to settle on what cut-off points will be put on the emanation of the pollutant. The administering body will at that point issue licenses to emit the pollutant in units to limit as far as possible. For instance, given the suggestions from scientific researchers, the legislature could actualise a top of 1,000,000 tons of CO2 discharges. The administration at that point issues 1,000,000 licenses to discharge 1 ton of CO2. Any firm that in this way emits CO2 or counterparts should legitimately hold a license for the majority of their outflows.

Third, the licenses are either sold to the highest bidder or given to existing polluters in number proportionate to their gauge emanations (grandfathering). When the licenses are issued, the proprietors of the licenses are allowed to purchase or pitch to anyone who needs to take an interest in the market (normally different polluters, yet could be advocacy groups).

Numerous individuals whine that a cap and trade program give polluters the privilege to purchase or sell pollution. Be that as it may, the cap and trade program speak to an improvement over business as usual. In the realm of carbon pollution, the polluters had an unhindered ideal to pollute before the cap and trade program. When the cap and trade framework is set up, those polluters will have new expenses related to emanating carbon. What's more, there will be confirmations, through the "cap", that complete outflows from all sources won't surpass a universally settled upon cut-off.

In contrast to a regulatory standard (lawful breaking point per user), a tradable permit framework offers adaptability to the polluters on the best way to achieve the ecological objective. If one polluter can overachieve requiring little to no effort, there is a motivation for them to do as such – selling their rights to a polluter that can't meet their objectives inexpensively. It can prompt the advancement of innovative arrangements and limits the expenses to society of following the points of limits.

Even though the tradable permit scheme, to some degree, controls the pollution outflow, it doesn't guarantee pollution decrease. Therefore, we need legislative intercession to encourage this plan towards decreasing the pollution levels.

It can be comprehended with the assistance of the accompanying diagram:

The X-axis indicates the number of tradable permits; the Y-axis indicates the price levels. S-2019 and S-2025 are the fixed supply curve, and D-2019 and D-2025 are the demand for permits.

The above diagram essentially demonstrates that if demand for permits increases, then the cost increases from P1 to P2. Here, the legislature can decrease the number of permits over an opportunity to guarantee the decrease of pollution (Q1 to Q2). It implies the cost will relentlessly increase and make a developing, motivating force to decrease pollution after some time. The thought is that it gives firms time to attempt and put resources into various innovation which makes less pollution.

Pollution permits are a strategy to attempt and decrease production to an all the more socially effective level. The point is to make the cost of pollution as close as conceivable to the social marginal cost[25].


The United Nations’ Sports for Climate Action has set five principles of advocating, promotion, adoption, reduction and active participation for a green sports revolution.[26] By bringing in these principles at harmony with the economic goals of a sports industry, and between researchers and team owners for efficiency, sustenance along with profit-making, sustainable development of sports and the environment can be achieved in harmony.



[1] Jonathan Liew, Sport must prepare for irreversible changes due to climate change unless it becomes part of the solution, (Feb. 9, 2018, 09:16 AM),

[3] Climate Nexus. (2019). Climate Change and Sports. [online],

[5] Climate Nexus. (2019). Climate Change and Sports. [online]

[6] Climate Nexus. (2019). Climate Change and Sports. [online]

[7] Francis Coralie vs. Union territory of Delhi, 1981 AIR 746 (India)

[8] Posner, R. (n.d.). Economic analysis of law.

[9] Quartz. (2019). A glimpse of what it will be like to play sports in a hotter world. [online]

[11] (2019). Position paper on potential impacts of climate change on winter sports. [online]

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] (2019). No special water supply to Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium for next 5 years, BMC tells HC. [online]

[17] Anokye, Nana Kwame, Subhash Pokhrel, Martin Buxton, and Julia Fox-Rushby. "The Demand for Sports and Exercise: Results from an Illustrative Survey." The European Journal of Health Economics 13, no. 3 (2012): 277-87.

[18] Broh, Beckett A. "Linking Extracurricular Programming to Academic Achievement: Who Benefits and Why?" Sociology of Education 75, no. 1 (2002): 69-95. doi:10.2307/3090254.

[19] Armstrong, Anne K., Marianne E. Krasny, and Jonathon P. Schuldt. "CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE: The Facts." In Communicating Climate Change: A Guide for Educators, 7-20. ITHACA; LONDON: Cornell University Press, 2018.

[20] (2019). 6 Ways Pro Sports Brands are Pushing Sustainability Initiatives (and Why it Matters). [online]

[21] (2019). Climate change is threatening the future of UK sport - Climate Action. [online]

[22] (2019). Climate change. [online]

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Posner, R. (n.d.). Economic analysis of law.

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