Major investment to help sports battle climate change

Sports England have launched their first-ever environmental sustainability strategy, Every Move, which includes major new investment to help the sport and physical activity sector respond to climate change.

The package, worth more than £45 million of new National Lottery funding, builds on the already announced £80 million joint investment by Sport England and government in the Swimming Pool Support Fund to make hundreds of swimming pools across the country more environmentally and financially sustainable.

The money will be used to help more people get active in nature, restore flooded sports pitches and help sports clubs become sustainable.

The announcement comes as new research, which forms part of Sport England’s latest Activity Check-in report, reveals that three in five adults and children (60%) say extreme weather has had a negative impact on their ability to be active, with one in four of the children negatively affected, citing the cancellation of PE and games lessons.

Sport England chair, Chris Boardman, said: “There is no doubt that our changing climate is already impacting our opportunities, motivation and ability to be active.

“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.

“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.

“The FA has estimated that 120,000 football games will be lost each year. A third of community pitches are already unplayable for two months of the year due to flooding – and it’s only going to get worse.

“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.”

In Every Move, Sports England commits to:

  • requiring 130 system partners, including the national governing bodies of all major recognised sports in England, to have robust sustainability action plans in place by March 2027 as a condition of their funding
  • work with partners and stakeholders to ensure end-of-life recycling for all newly funded replacement artificial grass pitches from June 2024, as a condition of funding
  • become a signatory of the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework and act as a global advocate for positive change
  • reduce their own carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2040; including action plans for national sports centres and supply chain.