Sports, climate change and legal liability

FrontRunners partnered with the legal experts at the Environmental Defenders Office to do a deep dive on the risks climate change creates for sport. This is the most comprehensive analysis of Sport, Climate Change and Legal Liability in Australia’s history.

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The report is a direct response to mounting pressure on sporting organisations from commercial partners, fans, athletes and mandatory disclosure requirements to take more action amid an escalating climate crisis. This is a must-read for anyone involved in sports administration and a call to arms for the industry to protect the future of the games we love.


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We know climate change is already impacting sport: from extreme heat to bushfire smoke, drought and flooding, it's striking at the heart of the games we love.

As these impacts unfold around us, the legal experts at the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) have worked to understand their implications for sports governance. They have produced a comprehensive report assessing the risks and responsibilities of sports administrators. 

While this report demonstrates how necessary these changes are, that doesn’t make them easy. Sporting organisations face a range of challenges in addressing climate risk - from resource scarcity to a lack of in-house expertise, as well as competing claims and ideas about where to begin, the efficacy of different types of action and the optimal trajectory, just to name a few.

Thankfully, when it comes to climate action, no one expects overnight perfection. In fact, a sports analogy is almost the perfect one to articulate the right approach to climate action. It’s impossible to win the flag or to set a record on day one.

Any athlete or organisation sets that as their ultimate goal—perhaps this year, perhaps in a few years, or maybe even on that four-year Olympic cycle. Then, they build a plan to get there—training, nutrition, recovery, so many tiny decisions help put them in the best position to achieve that ultimate goal. It requires partners, outside expertise, and a continual commitment to incremental improvement. 

Climate action is just the same. 

The work the EDO has done here to understand where we are, the challenges before us, and a pathway to address these is important reading for anyone involved in sports administration. For organisations already taking action, many of these concerns will not come as a surprise. And for those yet to take climate action, it should provide a clear rationale for action, and some focused ways to help your organisation begin the work. 

This report makes clear we all have a responsibility to ensure a safe future for our employees, athletes, fans, members and community.

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