On 13 December, 2018 the Estonian Ministry of the Environment and the Climate Leadership Coalition in Finland hosted side event at the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice. The event brought together representatives from governments and civil society organizations from around the world for discussions on the role of sport in engaging and empowering citizens to climate actions.

At the side event, key note speakers and panelists shared their perspectives on how sport as we know it is being affected by climate change, examples of how sport organizations are working towards zero emission sport events and how athletes have unique power in reaching their fans and motivating individual behavioral change in support of the fight against climate change.

– In Estonia, we see that climate change is affecting the sports that Estonian people love – short winter seasons have taken away the opportunity to fully enjoy skiing or skating outside. Raising awareness through engaging sports community is a good way for getting people to understand the link between climate change and our everyday life, says Siim Kiisler, the Environment Minister of Estonia.

– Climate change will have severe impacts also on sports. In Finland, we have already seen this in some winter sports events and the shortening skiing season. Sport is a non-political unifier and athletes have a power to engage the public and the whole society to climate action. Sports clubs can also make a major contribution to climate change mitigation by lowering their carbon footprint, underlines Kimmo Tiilikainen, the Environment, Energy and Housing Minister in Finland.

– This climate conference is marked by decisive engagement of sports community in taking climate action, with its power to influence billions to make the climate friendly choices while reducing its own climate footprint. #TheLastGame is our contribution to highlight the urgency of climate action and to encourage everyone to act, says Viatcheslav Fetisov, the Founder of The Last Hockey Game at the North Pole and UN Environment Patron for Polar Regions.

The subsequent panel included numerous accounts of sport organizations and athletes already showing climate leadership. Discussions included the important role that sponsors could play in requesting sport organizations to show climate leadership as a precondition for continued sponsorships.

The panel discussion was moderated by Michael Pedersen, the Sport Lead of the Global Crisis Information Network and the Founder, M INC. › change the game. Panelists were as follows:

  • Neil Thorns, Chair, The Climate Coalition’s Game Changer Report
  • Riku Kallioniemi, CEO, Finnish Ice Hockey League
  • Jouni Keronen, Executive Director, Climate Leadership Coalition
  • Eric McGuire, Representative, Advanced Sports Installations Europe Ltd
  • Melissa Harris, GLOBE Series
  • Miguel Naranjo, Programme Officer, UNFCCC Global Climate Action Team

Sports were well represented at COP24. A new initiative called Sports for Climate Action Framework was launched on December 11th, 2018. Miguel Naranjo, Programme Officer at UN Climate Change, briefed participants about it in the panel.

For further information, please contact:

Mart Raamat, Counsellor on Energy, Ministry of the Environment of Estonia

mart.raamat@envir.ee, +372 58004045

 Jouni Keronen, Director, Climate Leadership Coalition

jouni.keronen@clc.fi, +358 (0)50 4534881

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire.

It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.”

Nelson Mandela

 Mr Siim Kiisler, the Environment Minister of Estonia

 Mr Kimmo Tiilikainen, the Environment, Energy and Housing Minister in Finland

Mr Viatcheslav Fetisov, the Founder of The Last Hockey Game at the North Pole and UN Environment Patron for Polar Regions.