3 min read

Sport Encouraged To End Sponsorships With High Carbon Companies


A report from the New Weather Institute think tank, climate charity, Possible, and the Rapid Transition Alliance has called for all sports organisations and competitions to end sponsorship deals with high carbon lifestyle companies.

The report, titled ‘Sweat Not Oil’, revealed there are a total of 258 sponsorships worldwide between sports groups and high carbon industries, and claims the sponsorships damage efforts to reduce global warming.

The study examined 13 sports in total, including football, American football, cricket, Olympics, tennis, sailing, cycling, athletics, basketball, rugby, golf, and motorsport, with football proving to hold the most deals worldwide, with 57 sporting bodies holding sponsorships with oil and gas companies, airlines, and motoring firms.

Co-author of the report and co-director of the New Weather Institute, Andrew Simms, said the research will be presented to governing bodies and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in the UK.

“Sport floats on a sea of sponsorship deals with the major polluters,” Simms said.

“It makes the crisis worse by normalising high-carbon, polluting lifestyles, and reducing the pressure for climate action.

“Major polluters have become the ‘new tobacco’ of sports sponsorship.

“An estimated 8.7 million people are killed by air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels each year, more than the 8.2 million killed by smoking.

“Tobacco advertising was ended to protect people’s health.

“Now it’s time for sport to show end sponsorship from major polluters for the health of people and the planet,” he said.

As part of the report, the research team pointed out the prominent courtside sponsors at the 2021 Australian Open including a fossil fuel company, an airline, and a car manufacturer, all of which the report claims are high carbon companies.

When examining which ‘high carbon’ industries are the biggest contributors to sport sponsorships around the world, the researchers found the auto industry holds 199 of the 258 worldwide deals, with Toyota leading all competitors with 31 sponsorships, followed by the airline, Emirates, with 29 sponsorships.

The report identifies several recommendations for sporting organisations based on recommendations included in the Rapid Transition Alliance’s report ‘Playing Against the Clock: Global Sport, the Climate Emergency and the Case for Rapid Change’ are:

  • Positively screen corporate sponsors
  • Sign up to the United Nations (UN) Sport for Climate Action Framework
  • Set clear annual targets and steps on how to achieve them
  • After 2030, any global sports events or tours that are not zero carbon should be cancelled or postponed until they are
  • Global sport must actively cut its reliance on air travel
  • Zero carbon plans must be a condition of public support
  • Increase support to low-carbon, local grassroots sport


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