Sport urged to drop high carbon sponsorship deals

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Chris Froome
Chemicals giant Ineos runs the cycling team Ineos Grenadiers featuring Chris Froome

Sports teams and competitions have been urged to drop sponsorship deals from companies that promote “high carbon lifestyles, products and services”.

It says there are more than 250 sponsor agreements worldwide between sports groups and high carbon industries.

“Sport floats on a sea of sponsorship deals with the major polluters,” report co-author Andrew Simms said.

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

The report is published by the New Weather Institute think tank, climate charity Possible and the Rapid Transition Alliance.

Thirteen sports were examined, with football found to have the most deals – 57 in total worldwide – from kit sponsors to stadium naming rights being sold to oil and gas companies, as well as airlines and motoring firms.

Their research will be presented to governing bodies as well as the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Etienne Stott, London 2012 Olympic champion canoeist said: “Sport has a unique power to connect and inspire people. I would like to see it use its voice to promote the idea of care and stewardship of our planetary resources.”

The study also highlights the public health effects of the pollution which comes from burning fossil fuels and compares that with tobacco, which was banned from sports advertising in the UK in 2003.

Simms added: “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.”

The report highlights global chemical company Ineos and its sponsorship of the cycling team Ineos Grenadiers and Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup sailing team Ineos Team UK.

A spokesperson for Ineos said: “Ineos’ leadership on sustainability has been recognised by Ecovadis, a world renowned sustainability ratings agency. Audits of Ineos on environment, ethics, labour and human rights, and sustainable procurement placed it in the top 4% of 65,000 companies rated.

“And Ineos was especially recognised for its environmental performance, reflecting its commitment to carbon emission reduction targets and to recycling and the circular economy.

“Our relationship with our sports teams is more than sponsorship. They are a part of our company.”