On 2 November, 2018, the Climate Leadership Coalition and Sport and Sustainability International (SandSI) hosted an event in Helsinki to report on and support the work that the global sports industry and affiliated businesses are implementing to address the urgent threats posed by worsening climate change.

The recent report from the IPCC estimates that due to global warming the earth’s temperature will reach +1.5°C with in 20-30 years if it continues at the current rate. Virtually every coastal golf course in the world will be under threat by the end of the century, while the absence of snow will prevent at least nine of 21 Winter Olympics host cities from ever hosting the Games again. These effects are already visible in alpine and Nordic skiing and outdoor ice hockey.

“The cultural and market influence of sport is extremely influential. In the United States, less than 20% of the adult population regularly follows science, while almost 80% follows sports. Sport is a non-political unifier that can help promote climate literacy and reduce the cultural polariszation that limits our ability to effectively mobilise the world in response to the unprecedented threat posed by climate change,.” said Allen Hershkowitz, PhD, Chairman and Founding Director, Sport and Sustainability International.

Promoting awareness about climate change is the focus of the Last Hockey Game, which will be played in April 2019, staged by the UN Environment Programme and spearheaded by the legendary Russian ice hockey player Viacheslav Fetisov, who was appointed UN Environment Patron for the Polar Regions.

“The planet that we share is in big trouble. As a child, I was out on the ponds, and rivers in Moscow, skating every day, from October to April every winter. Now, in Moscow, in Finland, in Canada – we are lucky if we get one month in the whole year to skate outdoors. Now you can’t use your skates in September – you need a swim suit. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand. With the support of all the Artic countries -– the US, Canada, Russia, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland, – and the United Nations Secretary General Guterres and the United Nations Environment Programme, Pope Francis and the Vatican, and Prince Albert, we have a chance to help heal our planet. I am pleased to inform that Jari Kurri will join the Last Game,” said Fetisov.

“It is an honour to represent Finland in maybe the most important sports event in the world. I share the concern and I am willing to help in spreading the message and activating organisations and citizens for climate actions”, says Kurri.

“Besides being an information campaign mobilising urgent climate action, the Last Game offers great opportunities to give visibility to companies which are pursuing solutions for climate mitigation. The UN Environment Programme welcomes all interested parties to join the call from the North Pole,” said Jan Dusik, Principal Adviser for Strategic Engagement for the Arctic and Antarctic at UN Environment.

In addition to the Last Game, several climate actions in sports were presented by representatives of the Olympics, football, golf, and pond and ice hockey. “The Finnish Ice Hockey league Liiga has charted its carbon footprint together with Lappeenranta University of Technology. With the Liiga clubs, we will bring together all the measures already taken by the individual clubs and plan further actions. We want to be a responsible operator in preventing climate change. The Liiga reaches a significant proportion of Finns, and we are glad to set an example,”, said Riku Kallioniemi, CEO of the Liiga.

“Sport organisations have focused on sustainability for a while, but now it is time to focus to climate action. Sports can make a major contribution in support of climate mitigation if they lower their own carbon footprint, get their suppliers to do the same and encourage citizens to make climate-friendly purchasing choices,” concluded Jouni Keronen, Executive Director of the CLC and the Chairman of the event.

Jouni Keronen, Executive Director, CLC, jouni.keronen(at)clc.fi +358 50 4534881
Allen Hershkowitz, Chairman, Sport and Sustainability International, +1-917-453-6003