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Warning that climate change poses ‘serious threat’ to sport and physical activity in England

Our Chair Chris Boardman will say action is essential at today’s Blue Earth Summit in Bristol.

12th October 2023

Climate change is already negatively impacting levels of physical activity in Britain and without significant action, it will severely worsen sporting inequality, our chair Chris Boardman will say today.  

Speaking at the Blue Earth Summit on Thursday, Chris will highlight Sport England analysis and data which shows:  

During the heavy rainfall of November 2022, the percentage of children and young people stating that weather had stopped their physical activity in the past seven days increased by almost 40%.  

A flooded football pitch

And in the heatwave of July 2022, one in seven adults reported the weather was unsuitable for activity; more than a quarter of children reported this too.  

He'll also highlight support for the new commitment in the Government’s Get Active strategy, that states the government will work with us to ‘embed environmental sustainability as a pillar of funding agreements.’ 

He'll commit to working in partnership with the sector on when and how this is done, and to discuss it carefully in the weeks ahead and will also say that we'll publish our own sustainability roadmap in the coming months. 

"Climate change is an existential threat to the planet and sport is intrinsically wrapped up in that.

"It is a serious threat to the physical activity sector, and by extension, the health and happiness sport and activity bring to millions of people in England every day.

"We are committed to working in partnership across the sector on how we move forward but move forward we must.

"Some sports are already leading the charge and they will help others tackle what is the most complex and important challenge we have ever faced.

"This isn’t easy but climate change doesn’t care.

"The status quo can’t be an option. We will tackle this seriously, quickly and most importantly, together."

Chris Boardman

Chair, Sport England

If global temperatures increase by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, we risk seeing irreversible impacts, with deprived communities the most effected and the effects on sport and physical activity being profound.  

For example, 50% of past venues of the Winter Olympics wouldn't be able to hold them again*, and 23 out of 92 – or a quarter of English Football League grounds – can expect temporary or permanent flooding by 2050*.

*Playing Against the Clock: Global Sport, the Climate Emergency and The Case for Rapid Change

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