Sport England chair Chris Boardman has warned stakeholders that climate change is already negatively impacting levels of physical activity in Britain. “Without significant action, it will severely worsen sporting inequality.”
Boardman spoke at the Blue Earth Summit and referred to Sport England analysis and data. These show that during the heavy rainfall of November 2022, the percentage of children and young people stating that weather had stopped their physical activity in the past seven days increased by almost 40%.
And in the heatwave of July 2022, one in seven adults reported the weather was unsuitable for activity; more than a quarter of children reported this too.
Boardman also highlighted support for the new commitment to the Government’s Get Active strategy, that states the government will work with us to “embed environmental sustainability as a pillar of funding agreements.”
The Sport England chair continued by saying that he’ll commit to working in partnership with the sector on when and how this is done, and to discuss it carefully in the weeks ahead.
Furthermore, he announced that Sport England will publish its own sustainability roadmap in the coming months.
“Climate change is an existential threat to the planet and sport is intrinsically wrapped up in that.
“It is a serious threat to the physical activity sector, and, by extension, the health and happiness sport and activity bring to millions of people in England every day.
“We are committed to working in partnership across the sector on how we move forward, but move forward we must.
“Some sports are already leading the charge and they will help others tackle what is the most complex and important challenge we have ever faced.
“This isn’t easy but climate change doesn’t care.
“The status quo can’t be an option. We will tackle this seriously, quickly, and, most importantly, together.”
If global temperatures increase by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, we risk seeing irreversible impacts, with deprived communities the most affected and the effects on sport and physical activity being profound.