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Sport’s pathway to net zero

27 June 2023


Sport's pathway to net zero

Earlier this year, Forest Green retained their title as the most sustainable club in the English Football League (EFL). They achieved a perfect score of 24, even outscoring their closest Premier League rivals, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

While Forest Green’s success is admirable, work still needs to be done across the remainder of the pyramid. Sports Positive, who conducted the survey, scored up to 24 across several metrics, including the use of sustainable energy, how transport facilities mitigated scope 3 emissions and water efficiency. Of the 66 clubs assessed (6 of the EFL’s members declined to take part), only 12 scored even managed to score half of the maximum total, 12. 

Football is by no means an outlier, with clubs across sports needing to improve their net zero plans. Transitioning to net zero is a complex and difficult road and, after a tough period post-pandemic, something that has understandably taken a backseat. However, there is a need for more urgency – and there are available pathways.

What are the next steps for sporting clubs across the UK?

The FL has developed its EFL Green Clubs alongside Greencode, an organisation set up by Forest Green, to share knowledge. Away from football, World Rugby launched its Environmental Sustainability Plan 2030 with UK Sport delivering its Environmental Sustainability Strategy in March 2023.

On a broader scale, UN Climate Change has developed the Sports for Climate Action framework which earmarks two core commitments. These are halving emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2030. They expand on how to do this through objectives and principles.


Sports for Climate Action Objectives

  • Achieving a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change, through commitments and partnerships according to verified standards, including measuring, reducing, and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the well below 2 degree scenario enshrined in the Paris Agreement;

  • Using sports as a unifying tool to federate and create solidarity among global citizens for climate action.


Sports for Climate Action principles

Undertake systematic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility

Reduce overall climate impact

Educate for climate action

Promote sustainable and responsible consumption

Advocate for climate action through communication

How does my club start doing this?

Sports for Climate Action are clear; sporting clubs at every level don’t just have a responsibility lower their emissions. They also should use their status to inspire their wider community to do the same. Fulfilling both of these is daunting whether you’re a grassroots football organisation or one winning the Champions League. How can your club start to meet this framework? Here we outline some steps you can start taking.

Use renewable energy (and generate your own)

Renewable energy’s days as a luxury are long gone as everyone must lower their reliance on carbon, making it an essential part of any net zero driven procurement plan. The environmental benefits of taking these steps have been well-known for a while, but they can now positively impact your balance sheet too.


Renewable energy can often be cheaper, while the fact it's usually generated within the UK means increased energy security. Renewables are impactful for smaller clubs, as evidenced in our Six Benefits of Renewable Energy for SMEs. You may also be able to power your club yourself through on-site generation. This can not only reduce your emissions and lessen your reliance on the National Grid, but it may also even be a source of extra revenue if you generate more than you need.

Start mapping your emissions 

Reducing carbon starts with a core understanding of how much you are using, delivered via an effective carbon reporting strategy. Tracking energy use, transportation emissions and waste production is a crucial way to develop complete visibility across your Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.


Doing so allows you to set clear baselines on how to reduce your carbon, using actionable insights from your consumption data for better decision making to reduce your environmental impact. Good carbon accounting will also give you clear reporting on the progress of your carbon reductions, delivering  information you can use to update your stakeholders about your progress as part of inspiring your community.


Watch our Formulating your carbon reporting strategy webinar for further details on how to gain stronger visibility of the full spectrum of your emissions.

Reduce carbon 

Carbon reporting allows you to establish clear baselines for carbon reduction while empowering you to create your strategy to reduce your emissions further. Adding renewable sources to your procurement portfolio will also start this, but to fully accelerate it, you need to look across your whole energy usage.


Utilising a review system like our Event Insights facility enables you to not only understand your carbon usage but also identify ways in which you can reduce it. These include energy efficiency measures like HVAC optimisation, automatic doors and lighting and Building Management System optimisation.


Read our Event Insights case study that details how we helped an internationally renowned sporting institution identify £493,000 of potential annual savings.

Leadership on and off the pitch

The UN stresses the value of sports leading the charge for climate action through positive examples. This represents a genuine opportunity for clubs big and small to engage their community on a much higher level, helping with funding, attendance and the long-term support of a wider community. 

Are you ready to take the next steps on your net zero journey? Book a call with one of our carbon experts through the form below to discover how Trident can help your education organisation.

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Do you need more guidance on your net zero journey? Book a call with one of our specialists today and we'll be able to advise on how we can help your organisation

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