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Exclusive: Climate Change Is Challenging The Sporting Industry


Climate change is having a major impact on sport and those who play it.

In an exclusive interview with Ministry of Sport, Sport Environment Alliance (SEA) co-founder and CEO, Dr Sheila Nguyen, discussed how climate change is affecting the sports industry and what can be done to cope with it.

Dr Nguyen said she believes it is the most vulnerable within communities, such as the elderly and young, who are the most affected by climate change.

She said sporting companies are accountable for their strategy, decisions and plans to cope with climate change, especially on a national level.

“We have a responsibility to be accountable for the decisions we make and the way we plan for those decisions,” Dr Nguyen told Ministry of Sport.

During the devastating bush fires in 2020 Cricket Australia established a national air quality system, which identified when it was and wasn’t safe for people to play cricket.

Dr Nguyen said she believes this is a great example of how sport can live alongside climate change.

“Each state had its own air quality measurement that wasn’t nationally equivalent,” Dr Nguyen said.

“So having a national sport body that addressed air quality and provided guidance on what was safe to play within showed great national leadership for those who needed it, like community sport,” she said.

Through the signing and support of programs likes the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Changes (UNFCCC), sporting organisations are indirectly influencing people to care and educate themselves about climate change.

The sporting industry overall has a relatively small impact on climate change compared to other industries, such as mining and construction.

However, Dr Nguyen said she believes more needs to be done to educate the sporting community on how to make a difference.

Educating athletes rather than pressuring them is the best way to make authentic change to the environment according to Dr Nguyen.

“My advice for athletes would be to educate yourself, get the education that will allow you to make the best decision on what kinds of actions and organisations you want to be affiliated with,” Dr Nguyen said.

“Once athletes are aware that their actions do have an impact and their choices to role model can make a difference, athletes engage on their own volition.

“It then becomes more authentic,” she said.

She said once people are educated on the issue, change will happen.

“I don’t think it takes much to convince them that it’s something that they should be more mindful of,” Dr Nguyen told Ministry of Sport.

“It just requires a little educational nudge, and they are well on their way,” she said.

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