The Sports Industry at the Paris Climate Talks

The Sports Industry at the Paris Climate Talks
December 1, 2015
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Allen Hershkowitz, PhDPresidentGreen Sports AllianceThis week I travel to Paris, where I will be joined by sports industry representatives from throughout the world to communicate our collective concern about the urgent need to address climate change. Like everyone attending the Paris climate negotiations, those of us representing the sports industry will also be communicating about our collective responsibility to help reduce global warming pollution. We will also be reporting on the many good initiatives that the sports industry has already undertaken during the past decade to lower its carbon profile.The 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) represents the first United Nations climate meeting where the global sports industry will be playing a prominent role. I am proud to report that three events at the COP21 will be hosted or co-hosted by the Green Sports Alliance, and there will also be an event hosted by the French Ministry of Sports. Our intention is to use the visibility of sports to reach out to millions of fans and businesses, urging us all to take action, and to recognize that we are one team, one planet, and that climate change is not a game.The United Nations recently reported that during the past twenty years, more than 600,000 people have died due to weather related events, while more than 4 billion people have been injured and about $2 trillion in economic damage has been incurred. The past ten years, as ocean temperatures have climbed and glaciers have melted, saw twice the amount of weather-related damage incurred than the ten years previously. Things are getting worse.The two-week climate summit in Paris has been years in the making. It will seek to make progress in three areas: 1. Controlling emissions, 2. Developing financial assistance plans to help developing nations mitigate their own contribution to the problem and help them adapt to the major challenges that climate change imposes on them, and 3. Plan for future action.Mitigation is essential; we must reduce our use of fuels that contribute to global warming. The goal is to develop plans collectively that will limit future warming to no more than 2 degree Celsius (almost 4 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. The good news is that mitigation plans have been submitted by more than 170 countries, which are collectively responsible for 90 percent of all greenhouse emissions. The United States submitted its plan in March of 2015, and pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by about 26% by 2025 (using 2005 as the baseline year). China’s plan promises to peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.The not so good news is that the plans so far submitted don't collectively add up to enough of a reduction in emissions to prevent worsening catastrophic damage. More needs to be done. Much more. And for this reason, negotiators at the COP will also focus on financing adaptation, especially for developing countries.To truly address the climate crisis, we need a transformative shift in cultural attitudes about how we relate to the Earth. The Paris COP shows that mobilizing the world’s governments to act is crucial. But governments don't lead cultural shifts, they follow. The global sports industry, one of the world’s most powerful economic sectors and arguably the most visible, is helping to lead that cultural shift towards ecologically smarter behavior. Already, the Green Sports Alliance and our allies have reached more than 100 million people about the need to shift towards responsible environmental stewardship, and our member teams and venues have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of millions of pounds, and they’ve often saved money doing so.If you would like to learn about our work, please join us in Paris, watch our events on line at, or follow the conversation with #GreenSports.On December 5th and 6th, Green Sports Alliance COP21 panels will be held at 5PM (Paris-time) in Room 5 at Le Grand Palais:

  • On December 5th our panel speakers include:
  • Alejandro Agag, CEO, Formula E
  • Neil Beecroft, Sustainability Manager, UEFA
  • Gretchen Blieler, Olympic silver medalist in snowboarding; Protect Our Winters Board member
  • Omar Mitchell, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, National Hockey League
  • Moderator: Allen Hershkowitz, President, Green Sports Alliance
  • On December 6th our panel speakers include:
  • Chris DeVolder, Sustainable Design Leader, HOK
  • Sheila Nguyen, Executive Director of the Sports Environment Alliance
  • Alexis LeRoy, Founder and CEO, ALLCOT Group
  • Moderator: Scott Jenkins, Chairman, Green Sports Alliance

On December 7th at the Stade de France, the Green Sports Alliance is participating in Sustainable Innovation in Sport, a multi-panel symposium convened by Climate Action that is bringing together 100+ leaders from government, the United Nations, sports leagues and teams, and corporate sustainability leaders.Confirmed speakers at the Stade De France event include:

  • Allen Hershkowitz, PhD, President, Green Sports Alliance
  • Neil Hawkins, Chief Sustainability Officer and Corporate VP, The Dow Chemical Company
  • Tânia Braga, Committee Head of Sustainability, Accessibility and Legacy, Rio 2016 Olympic Games
  • Dr. Nicoletta Piccolrovazzi, Global Technology and Sustainability Director, Dow Olympic & Sports Solutions
  • Jean-Pierre Siutat, President, French Basketball Federation
  • Alexandra Boutelier, Managing Director, Stade de France
  • Mael Besson, Policy Officer, Sustainable Development of Sport, French Ministry of Cities, Youth and Sport
  • Viviane Fraisse, Sustainability Head, Roland Garros
  • Neil Beecroft, Sustainability Manager, UEFA
  • Alain Riou, Adjoint Director-General, French Federation of Tennis
  • Gretchen Bleiler, Olympic silver medalist in snowboarding; Protect Our Winters Board member
  • Omar Mitchell, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, National Hockey League
  • Niall Dunne, Chief Sustainability Officer, BT Group
  • Jacques Lambert, President, UEFA EURO 2016 Steering Committee; President, EURO 2016 SAS
  • Lewis Pugh, UNEP Patron of the Oceans