Climate change: United Nations wants sporting bodies to do more

By David LockwoodBBC Sport
German football mascot
Climate change was addressed in the German Bundesliga at fixtures in November

Just four professional UK-based sports clubs or associations have signed up to the United Nations initiative on climate change, 12 months after it was launched.

Internationally, fewer than 100 teams, events and organisations have joined the Sports for Climate Actionexternal-link initiative.

This week delegates have been meeting at the UN's annual conference in Madrid to discuss global warming, with the organisation saying there is "big room for improvement".

The four UK-based sporting bodies to have signed up are Rugby League World Cup 2021, the All England Lawn Tennis Club, Forest Green Rovers Football Club and GB Sailing.

Notable organisations globally include Fifa, Uefa, World Rugby and the International Olympic Committee.

Uefa, though, has recently been criticised for scheduling Euro 2020 in 12 cities across the continent.

And the UN director of climate and environment Martin Frick added more could be done to "bring down the carbon footprint of sports events".

The framework asks its signatories to commit to five key principles - calling for the monitoring and reducing of their own climate impact as well as educating and promoting further action among fans.

The UN hopes more UK-based teams and events will be inspired to do their bit by "big ticket organisations".

"I just hope that many people who are organising sports events in the UK are following this progress and feel encouraged," Frick said.

But despite widespread acknowledgement of the need for urgent action on climate change, Frick says the UN decided not to attach targets to this scheme.

"The target is out there, we know that 1.5 degrees is really the maximum increase this planet can take... to do so we need to bring our emissions down by 7.5% every year. Now, if you take that as a target for any sports club, that would be a very good start.

"It's not a niche thing. It's not a political thing, whether you're left wing or right wing.

"It's something that is for all of humanity, a clear and present threat that we have to respond to and I think sports clubs getting involved has this unifying power of saying, look let's put our differences aside. Here's a big problem that we have to fix."