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Environmentalists urge for minimal use of carbon credits at Brisbane 2032

March 28 2024 - News Release News Editorial

Australian environmental action group FrontRunners has found that the country’s sporting organisations are not responding adequately to the climate crisis, and have called for meaningful action at the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games.

Environmentalists urge for minimal use of carbon credits at Brisbane 2032

Brisbane 2032 is the first edition of the Olympic Games to be contractually obligated to operate as “climate positive”, meaning it has to offset more carbon emissions than it produces.

Many organisations have bought and used carbon credits that are intended to offset emissions. However, research from Compensate shows that 90% of carbon offsetting projects using nature-based solutions fail to meet proprietary sustainability criteria.

“Any Olympic games require a large amount of international travel, and some of the emissions created by the games are hard to abate and will require carbon offsets,” FrontRunners Decarbonising Sport Lead Nicola Barr told Global Sustainable Sport.

“We hope that they will be used as sparingly as possible and, when required, will look to source the highest-standard offsets with a focus on local credits.

“At FrontRunners, we believe achieving this goal meaningfully means more than just ‘ticking off’ a climate-positive Brisbane 2032 Olympics. With millions of viewers, athletes, teams, and commercial partners, Brisbane 2032 has the opportunity to tell the story of the first-ever climate-positive green games, with its influence going above and beyond the games themselves.”

Sporting events across the planet are under threat from climate change, with Australia facing particular extreme effects.

Some cities in the country are predicted to reach 50˚C by the year 2040, while the Black Summer fires of 2019 and 2020 are thought to have been responsible for 479 deaths and up to A$3.65bn (£1.88bn/$2.37bn/€2.2bn) in damage.

FrontRunners has released a joint report with the Environmental Defenders Office titled Sports, Climate Change and Legal Liability. It claims that Australian sport is failing to engage with or adapt to the climate crisis.

"With public sentiment changing rapidly in response to the climate harms we’re all experiencing, this kind of corporate behaviour is risky and past its use-by date." FrontRunners Decarbonising Sport Lead Nicola Barr

It states that this could leave organisations vulnerable to serious financial and legal risks.

Of Australia’s top 314 sporting bodies, fewer than 1% mention climate change in their annual reports, 6% reference it in strategic plans, and just 3% provide any guidance on the issue online.

FrontRunners has put this down to the effects of COVID-19 and a “legacy of broader government inaction”.

Several organisations are also sponsored by companies that do damage to the environment, something which is believed to be holding back sustainability efforts.

“Companies that harm our environment need community acceptance to operate effectively because, without it, their profitability, brand perception, and long-term viability are all at stake,” Barr said.

“And so we’ve seen fossil fuel corporations invest huge amounts in sports sponsorship and advertising. With public sentiment changing rapidly in response to the climate harms we’re all experiencing, this kind of corporate behaviour is risky and past its use-by date.

“In addition to current legal liabilities, the failure to respond adequately to climate change can seriously damage the reputation of sport.

“Recent controversies include Cricket Australia and Alinta Energy, Fremantle Dockers and gas-behemoth Woodside Energy, and Carlton Football Club and Ampol.

“These controversies lay bare what happens when commercial decisions are made that are out of touch with player and spectator values.”

Image: Matt Palmer on Unsplash

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