Skip to content

Major investment to help sports battle climate change

We've committed £45 million to support the sector as part of our first-ever environmental sustainability strategy, Every Move.

16th May 2024

Today we've launched our 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 us 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.

Introducing Every Move

Today’s announcement comes as new research, which forms part of our 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.

Our 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."

"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."

Chris Boardman

Chair, Sport England

Our commitments in Every Move

In Every Move, we commit 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 our own carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2040; including action plans for our national sports centres and supply chain.

Podcast: an environmental sustainability special

TV presenter Ayo Akinwolere hosts a discussion between our chair Chris Boardman, our environmental sustainability lead Denise Ludlam and Adam Freeman-Pask, the CEO of Fulham Reach Boat Club.

What the sector says

Our sector-wide consultation with stakeholders, partners and operators found that: 

  • 4 in 10 organisations are being affected by weather-related interruptions to play already
  • 8 in 10 people want their organisations to be ambitious on environmental sustainability
  • more than half of organisations (55%) see lack of funding as the greatest barrier to acting on environmental sustainability
  • funding for environmental initiatives is the type of support organisations want most (59%).

A harvest mouse peeks out of a hole in a tennis ball placed on the end of a stick among wildflowers.

Chris added: "It’s not too late to make a difference. Today’s strategy launch is a vital moment for the sports and activity sector and together we can unite to fight against the impact of climate change.

"Sport holds a privileged position in our nation’s psyche – it can reach and influence millions of people to tackle this global issue.

"It’s time we moved from informing and encouraging to enabling and requiring, and ensure our language leaves no room for the status quo.

"We know the sector wants Sport England to provide support, guidance, and leadership on this issue and Every Move sets out how we have listened.

"As a contributor to climate change through major events and travel, it's time for us to become part of the solution."

Chief executive's reaction

"What makes our Every Move strategy unique is that we make the clear link between participation levels, inequality and climate change.

"We will lead, inspire and support the sector to become environmentally sustainable, enabling greater opportunity for all people to participate in sport and physical activity, whatever their background, both now and in the future."

Tim Hollingsworth

Chief executive, Sport England

In Every Move, we commit to working in close collaboration with the sector by providing practical support, including capability and capacity building for our partners, training, tools, resources, and the creation of peer learning networks; particularly for grassroots sport and physical activity organisations.

Find out more

Use the links below to find our more about Every Move and our sustainability work, or to hear from our strategic lead for environmental sustainability, Denise Ludlam, about how the strategy and action plan were developed and how seemingly small changes can still make a difference.

Minister's comments

Sports Minister, Stuart Andrew

"The UK was the world’s first major economy to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 100% of 1990 levels by 2050.

"All organisations, including across the sport sector, must play a part to reduce their impact on the environment and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

"This commitment from Sport England will help to maintain access to facilities, so that as many people as possible are able to keep fit and healthy as we strive to achieve our ambition to get 3.5 million more people active by 2030."

Q&A: Every Move

  • Why's Sport England creating a sustainability strategy?

    We know that low-income households, older people, marginalised communities, children, and those with disabilities and long-term health conditions will be most vulnerable to climate hazards.

    Our Active Lives surveys show that these same audiences already participate less in sport and physical activity than their counterparts. We believe this will only be compounded by climate change.   
    Air pollution and increasing temperatures heighten the risk of ill-health for these groups and decrease individuals' ability, as well as their motivation and opportunities, to participate in sport and physical activity. Those who are the most socially vulnerable tend to live and work in the most polluted environments, with little access to green or blue space, and lack the resources to respond.    
    The negative effects of climate change and benefits of participating in sport and physical activity are not distributed evenly. We’re committed to tackling this to ensure a fairer sport and physical activity environment for everyone.

    Read less
  • How's climate change already impacting sports clubs and community groups? Why do I need to worry about this?

    The places and spaces we use for sport and physical activity and our participation are threatened by the effects of climate change.

    Reduced water and air quality, rising temperatures, and extreme weather events such as flooding, drought, and heatwaves are all expected to increase in the coming decades. 

    The ‘Playing Against the Clock’ report warns that by 2050, 23 out of 92 English league football grounds will be at risk from flooding every season, a third of British Open golf courses will be damaged by rising sea levels, and half of previous Winter Olympic cities will be unreliable hosts of winter sports.

    Read less
  • What can individuals who take part in sport and grassroots organisations do that will make a difference? How can we reduce our carbon footprint?

    We can work together to address the issue. We should all recognise that small steps will add up – transport is a third of all our emissions and most journeys are short. 

    Simple swaps like car sharing and active travel – to training, fixtures and meets – mean we will produce less or no carbon and often save money.

    Recycling while at venues or using re-fill taps rather than single use plastic for rehydration.

    Sports clubs can think about cautious use of lighting, of pitches, car parks, clubhouses. They can consider LED lighting and electric in general for kitchens.

    Read less
  • How can changing my behaviour make a difference when climate change is a global issue?

    The concept of marginal gains – making lots of small changes that add up to success – was born in sport and is so relevant here. 

    Climate change is a shared responsibility – from community groups to large national governing bodies, and from global sports teams to the owners of our sports centres and playing fields (councils).

    Read less
  • What's Sport England going to do to help me make my club or comunity group sustainable?

    We’re here to help with advice, support and, where possible, funding, as detailed above.

    We are committed to working closely with the sector by providing practical support, training, tools, resources, and the creation of peer learning networks; particularly for grassroots sport and physical activity organisations.   

    Read less
  • Which organisations are likely to be included regarding funding agreements?

    We have approximately 130 ‘system partners’, which includes the national governing bodies of all the major recognised sports in England.

    We are committed to working in partnership and discussing this carefully with them in the weeks and months ahead.

    Read less

Sign up to our newsletter

You can find out exactly how we'll look after your personal data, but rest assured we’ll only use it to make sure you receive our newsletter, to understand how you interact with our newsletter, and to provide administrative information about our newsletter.