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Sustainability in Premier League Football

In this post, we explore some of the most pioneering sustainability campaigns credited to top-flight football.

Sustainability in Premier League Football
Sustainability in Premier League Football

At the beginning of 2024, England's Premier League football clubs pledged to create their own environmental sustainability policies. This initiative aimed to set a minimum standard for sustainable practices at both club and league levels.

But, just how environmentally conscious are the football clubs of the UK? In this post, we explore some of the most pioneering sustainability campaigns credited to top-flight football.

Football; the Famously Unsustainable Sport

One of the biggest criticisms of football clubs when it comes to their carbon footprint is travel. Last year, research revealed that Premier League teams made over 80 individual short-haul domestic flights to and from just 100 matches. This was over a short two-month period. With emissions per kilometre travelled with short-haul flights being significantly worse than any other form of transport, it is evident that we are in need of change.

Another frequent frustration with football culture is players' love for fuel-guzzling fast cars. From Aubameyang's ยฃ250,000 metallic Lamborghini to Balotelli's army-wrapped Bentley Continental, traditionally, the higher up the ranks a footballer climbs, the more emissions they generate.

The Players Pioneering Electric Cars

While famous sportspeople and fast cars go hand in hand, we are starting to see a modest shift in thinking. There are now several football figures making the move over to electric.

One prominent figure, Former England captain David Beckham, has acquired a 10% stake in Lunaz, a Silverstone-based EV conversion company.

Lunaz boasts an impressive catalogue of electrified classics, including the world's first fully electric Range Rover, Jaguar, Bentley, and Rolls-Royce.

David Beckham said:

"Lunaz represents the very best of British ingenuity in both technology and design. I was drawn to the company through their work restoring some of the most beautiful classic cars through upcycling and electrification. David Lorenz and his team of world-class engineers are building something very special and I very much look forward to being part of their growth."

Other footballer waving the flag for electric cars is Eden Hazard, who is the very proud owner of a Nissan Leaf. Hazard is sharing his experiences in a bid to โ€œstrengthen electric mobility education and highlight the smarter, cleaner and fun-to-drive EV experience.โ€

โ€œAs a father, I have a duty to my kids to lead by example. There are many positive actions we can make, like choosing an electric vehicle, that will only have a positive impact for the planet, and the people,โ€ said Eden Hazard, who is now the global ambassador for Nissan.

โ€œThe biggest benefit of my LEAF is its 100% electric powertrain, it makes me proud to be an EV driver and partner with Nissan to electrify the world together. We all need to make changes today to secure the future of our planet Earth.โ€

Liverpool FC's ESG Campaigns

Liverpool FC is one of the top tier Premier League where sustainability is seen throughout the tapestry of the club. From the provision of PV (solar) panels on the roof of the Stand to the award-winning "Reds Going Green" programme focused on matchday recycling, Liverpool are eager to do their part.

Additionally, the club has offset 100% of emissions from its football operations, aligning with its goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2040.

Since 2019, the club has reduced carbon emissions from fuel and electricity by 60%. By implementing 100% clean energy at all LFC sites, it has prevented 2,636 tonnes of carbon emissions.

#GameZero

In September 2021, we saw the first ever zero-emission football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in September, known as Game Zero,

Partnering with Spurs, RSK, and Natural Capital Partners, Sky aimed to host the world's first net-zero carbon football game at an elite level and inspire fans to reduce their carbon footprint.

Net-zero was reached by measuring baseline emissions, reducing them, and offsetting the remainder through a reforestation project in East Africa.

Key actions included:

Players arrived in coaches powered by green biodiesel, reducing squad travel emissions by over 80%.

Fans walked 36,000 miles and drove 225,000 miles in electric or hybrid cars.

The stadium used 100% renewable energy for heating and cooking.

Locally and sustainably sourced food was served, with a 94% increase in vegetarian and plant-based meals.

Sky reduced emissions from their production crew by 70%.

Manchester United

As one of the most globally followed and financially lucrative clubs in world football, Manchester United hold a great level of responsibility when it comes to setting the standard for excellence in football.

Manchester United was one of the first football clubs in the world to launch a carbon reduction program in 2008, and since then, it has reduced its annual emissions by 2,700 tonnes.

The club aims to build on this achievement through a new partnership with Renewable Energy Group.

โ€œAs one of the most popular sports teams in the world, the club has a powerful platform to help raise awareness of how people can contribute towards a cleaner, more sustainable future for our planet,โ€ explained Collette Roche, Manchester United Chief Operating Officer.

"Manchester United FC recognises its responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy environment and will protect the environment through our ISO14001 certified environmental management system. This policy will be implemented by maintaining compliance to environmental legislation and other requirements to which we subscribe and having clearly outlined objectives, targets, management responsibilities and employee involvement to continually improve our performance" it states.

Oxford Aiming for Net-zero Emissions by 2040

Oxford United, an English Football League football club, has signed the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, an initiative designed to support and guide sports organisations in combating climate change in line with the Paris Agreement's goals.

Launched in 2018, this initiative has over 250 signatories worldwide, including FIFA, UEFA, The FA, the International Olympic Committee, Formula 1, Sky Sports, and BBC Sport.

Oxford United is the 13th English football club to join the pledge, following others such as Birmingham County Football Association, Bristol City Football Club, and Liverpool Football Club.

The club is committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2040.

Oxford United's chief executive officer Tim Williams said: "Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face, and football has an important role to play in tackling it.

"Oxford United is committed to improving sustainability in the English Football League and are proud to have signed up to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework.

"This is a club-wide commitment across all our operations, and we have a clear strategy to ensure we become one of English football's most environmentally friendly clubs."