You may ask yourself, football and climate action?
You may ask yourself, football and climate action?What can this game advocate for? An attempt to save pitches from flooding, or a stop to global warming because it’s too hot to practice outside during the summer? Well, yes.
But, in the grand scheme of things, it can advocate for a united front in the battle against climate change. This is crucial as this battle, in football terms, can be equated to the most important game on the planet. Most importantly, this is a game in which everyone has a role to play.
We Play Green believes that we can save our planet from environmental and climate disasters by using football, and specifically the reach and influence of professional football players and clubs. Together, football can create mass awareness, sustainable attitudes and actions from the grassroots-up, and the start an impactful, long-lasting greenchain reaction that results in necessary system change.
To us, football is a universal language that, if used appropriately, can be utilized to restore man’s balance with nature and a sense of teamwork that is both integral to the game, and a healthy life on planet earth.
Where do we start? We Play Green believes the best way to start is through awareness.
We interpret awareness as the acknowledgment that the planet is currently undergoing climate and environmental crises, and that there is still time and actions available to prevent the worst from happening.
So, why football? Because the reach of football is unprecedented and can therefore act as a great means to spread climate change awareness worldwide.
This sport has become one of the world’s most-followed social phenomena– an estimated 3.5 billion people around the world watch this game. This estimation of followers is equal to almost half of the world’s population. But, also equal to half, is the number of worldwide emissions that need to be cut by 2030 in order to avoid climate catastrophe.
In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced that to steer clear of climate catastrophe, global temperatures must be kept below 1.5C increase this century, meaning worldwide net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. More recently in 2022, the IPCC released an updated report with grimmer news; human-caused climate change is quickly approaching “irreversibility”.
The science is clear, our planet is warming. But, we still have time to preventthe worst from happening.
One of the biggest obstacles to achieving worldwide climate cooperation is that many individuals are unaware of the climate and environmental crises, are overwhelmed by them or do not believe in them (UNDP climate opinion survey). This is relevant as climate change is a multifaceted issue involving politics, businesses, and individuals. For a massive change to happen, there needs to be structural changes surrounding the centers of power, i.e., politicians and businesses. However, for this to happen, a transition to a low-carbon world requires the participation of grassroots initiatives in the form of individual responsibility, initiatives to vote, and the creation of pressure on centers of power.
This is where football can come in. Football and football players have enough reach and influence to put pressure on centers of power by starting to make people aware. An excellent example of this is the work of Manchester United and English National forward, Marcus Rashford. When the world was dealing with the unprecedented burden of the Coronavirus Pandemic in 2020, Rashford made the UK public aware of another pandemic, child hunger, that was affecting low-income families around Britain heavily during lockdown.
Through his food campaign, he managed to gain enough media, charity, and individual support to manifest not one, but two government U-turns on his initiatives and feed 1.7 million kids. Through harnessing his platform as a football player, he brought people inside and outside the football community together in creating a united front and putting pressure on the government to make a change.
Imagine how many issues can be solved by using football as a platform to make people aware of them.
After awareness, the next logical step in saving the planet is through engagement.
Engagement is important as widespread participationon all levels of the football community is necessary to create a culture of sustainable behaviors and advocate for structural change on a global scale.