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G A M E C H A N G E R
How climate change is impacting sports in the UK
S H O W T H E L O V E . O R G . U K # S H O W T H E L O V E

G A M E C H A N G E R
THE CLIMATE COALITION
How climate change is This report marks the launch of the The Climate Coalition's annual Show The Love affecting our much-loved sports campaign which aims to raise awareness of climate change and all it threatens, and
encourage people to show their support for action to address it. The Climate Coalition is the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change and limiting its impact on the people, places and life we love at home in the UK and around the world, including the world’s poorest countries. The coalition is made up of over 130 organisations with a combined supporter base of 15 million, including WWF, National Trust, RSPB, Christian Aid, CAFOD, The Women’s Institute and Oxfam. Together, we want a world powered by clean and secure energy within a
generation. Find out more at showthelove.org.uk
PRIESTLEY INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR CLIMATE
Providing research to underpin robust and timely climate solutions is the USP of the Priestley International Centre for Climate. The University of Leeds centre is unique in
bringing together world leading expertise in all the key strands of climate change research.
One of the University’s flagship strategic investments, the Priestley Centre aims to provide international solutions to the global challenge of climate change through new
interdisciplinary research partnerships that better link our physical, technological, economic and social understanding of climate change with strategies for mitigation and adaptation. Find out more at climate.leeds.ac.uk
S H O W T H E L O V E . O R G . U K # S H O W T H E L O V E

G A M E C H A N G E R A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S
How climate chanEgdeitoirisal and production team: affecting our muchD-olmoGvogegdins,sCplaroarGotlsdsmith,
Caroline Grogan, Jessica Marsh, Bronwen Smith-Thomas
Scientific contributors and advisors:
Professor Piers Forster, Director and Kate Sambrook, Priestley International Centre for
Climate
Thanks to:
James Boyle, Pete Chalkley, Dan Cherry, Mike Childs, Matt Chilton, Robin Clegg, Jess Coffin,
Helen Collinson, Steve Cornelius, Darren Crossman, Adam Dayson, Fiona Dear, Emma
Elliott, Patricia Espinosa, Emma Fidler, Dominic Foster, Aimee Fuller, John Gawthorpe, Katherine Grainger, Ryan Henson, Steve Isaac,
Ed King, Robert Lingard, Michael Lloyd, George McCaffrey, Luke Morgan, Andrew Murray, Friederike Otto, Tom Pitchon, Claire Poole, Rosie Shannon, Russell Seymour, John Shiels, The Sport and Recreation Alliance, Alex Stafford, Neil Thorns, Tom Viita, Elliot Ward,
David Warrilow, Terry Watson, Chris Whittaker, Richard Windows
Special thanks to the British Association for Sustainable Sport (BASIS)
S H O W T H E L O V E . O R G . U K # S H O W T H E L O V E

C O N T E N T S

Introduction

03

Foreword, Dame Katherine Grainger

04

Foreword, Patricia Espinosa

05

Climate impact on sports: What the science tells us

06

Climate impact on golf

08

In focus: climate impact on greens

09

Case study: Montrose Golf Course

10

Sustainability hole in one

11

Climate impact on football

12

Case study: Bromley Heath United

13

Kicking off sustainability: City Football Academy

13

Kicking off sustainability: Manchester United

14

Climate impact on cricket

15

Case study: Glamorgan Cricket Club

16

Greening the home of cricket

17

Climate impact on winter sports

18

Skiing

18

Winter Olympics

19

Case study: Les Deux Alpes

20

Conclusion

21

References

22

I N T R O D U C T I O N
Sport is central to our national culture, providing enjoyment, boosting health and a source of passion and delight for millions. The triumph and tragedy of great sporting moments at
St Andrews, the Principality Stadium or Wembley sit atop a hive of grassroots sports clubs which are woven into the fabric of our nations.
But some of the UK’s best loved sports are facing an unexpected threat. Climate change, and the changing risks of extreme weather that it brings, is already affecting sports across the country. The experiences of sports clubs and players in this report, backed up by the scientific expertise of the
Priestley International Centre for Climate, provide a snapshot of the problem.
This report focuses on three sports with hundreds of years of history between them: golf, football and cricket. And with the report’s launch coinciding with the Winter Olympic Games in
PyeongChang, South Korea, it also looks at winter sports, which are among the hardest hit by climate change as higher temperatures drive the snow line higher up the mountains.
This report reveals the impacts of extreme weather, but also showcases how sport is starting to play a part in tackling climate change by cutting emissions and by taking a lead, inspiring others to follow. We are far from being powerless to act. In the sporting spirit of aiming to win,
there are clear actions we can all take to get the right result:
1. Sports clubs and governing bodies all need to reduce carbon emissions and other environmental impacts. The British Association of Sustainable Sport (BASIS) can provide resources and expertise to help sports better understand the impacts of climate change and share best practice in how to become more resilient
and environmentally sustainable, and in doing so encourage their millions of fans to do the same.
2. Governments across the UK need to help us all live more sustainably by driving down greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve the ambition of the Climate Change Act we need a big acceleration in energy from the sun, wind and waves; warm, efficient, healthy homes; and increased uptake of clean electric cars,
walking, cycling and public transport.
3. Signed by 196 countries, the Paris Climate Agreement signals to the world that companies, governments and institutions must act to stop temperatures from rising more than 1.5ºC and help poorer countries adapt to the impacts they are already seeing. A new UNFCCC dialogue on sport and the environment is
underway – British sport should engage fully in this and play their part.
If climate change affects something as central to our lives as sport, then it’s a strong sign that wherever we look across society we’ll find similar stories and impacts. The Show the Love
campaign aims to highlight these unexpected and everyday impacts of climate change, as it’s these that have the potential to wake us all up to the new reality.

DAME KATHERINE G R A I N G E R
CHAIR OF UK SPORT & OLYMPIC ROWER
Sport is about challenge and the determination to stretch ourselves to our limits. And now sport itself is facing a challenge. This report sets out how some of our most iconic British sports are being threatened by a changing climate. Storms and floods are wreaking havoc on football and cricket pitches across the country, historic golf courses are succumbing to higher seas and storm surges, and winter sports are under threat from reducing snow.
It is now well established that, whenever people are motivated to take up sport or physical activity, it is likely to lead to improvements in their physical and mental wellbeing and generate other benefits related to their individual development. Our changing climate is posing a challenge to participation in sport—threatening our health and wellbeing.
It is up to all of us, in all walks of life, to act to address the growing challenge of climate change. There are some excellent examples in this report of how sports and clubs are rising to that challenge—reducing carbon emissions and working to improve the resilience of their sports. Now we need to see this action for sustainability step up a level, and for all sportspeople and sports clubs to play their part.

P A T R I C I A E S P I N O S A
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF THE UNFCCC
The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement is one of the biggest multilateral accomplishments in UN history. Its influence gets stronger every day – 173 out of more than 190 signatories to the Agreement have ratified it.
Sport is a $600bn global business with a unique power to convene, move and inspire. That’s why the UN Climate Change Secretariat brought some of the world’s biggest sports organisations together ahead of COP 23 in Bonn, Germany. We stand ready to support efforts within sport to work towards the climate secure, resilient economy that world leaders committed to in Paris.
This report from the Climate Coalition is a welcome step on that journey. Just like athletes need a strong foundation to compete at their very best, the planet is no different.
We need the right conditions to maintain peak performance. For too long we’ve treated the planet as if we’re in a sprint—using all our energy and resources in one short blast. We must understand that far from a sprint, we are, together, in the longest of marathons. The more of us run together, the better our future will be and one in which every man, woman and child can win.

CLIMATE IMPACT ON SPORTS: WHAT THE SCIENCE TELLS US
KATE SAMBROOK & PIERS FORSTER PRIESTLEY INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR CLIMATE
Cancelled football matches, flooded cricket grounds and golf courses crumbling into the sea: climate change is already impacting our ability to play and watch the sports we love.
On a global scale, the science is settled: human emissions of greenhouse gases have led to a rise in global average surface temperature of over 1ºC[1], with impacts on rainfall patterns, climate and ecosystems all over the world[2].Through careful scientific analysis and data recording by the Met Office and others, a
clearer picture of the effects of climate change on the UK is beginning to emerge[3].

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE

There is growing evidence that the UK is becoming warmer and wetter. The laws of physics tell us that a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, increasing the frequency and strength of extreme rainfall events[4]. During the last 20-30 years, the UK has experienced a rapid increase in extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall, bringing severe flooding in many areas[5-6]. Six out of the seven wettest years in our history have occurred since 2000 (see figure 1).

affected sports facilities across the country. In a recent study researchers found that climate change made the UK’s record December rainfall in 2015 59% more likely[12].
Future projections by the Met Office indicate that winter rainfall could increase by 70-100% by the 2080s. While there will still be drier years, this suggests that wet winters like the ones we have experienced lately could become more common in the future[13], increasing the risk of further damaging floods in the UK.

Figure 1: Annual rainfall (mm) for the UK, 1960 to 2016. (Source: Met Office, 2017).
Seasonal differences in rainfall mean that different sports are affected in different ways. For football, with fixtures throughout the winter, the main concern is the 26% increase in winter rainfall since 1900[7-10]. The recent winters of 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 were notable for their record-breaking rainfall, with over 150% more rainfall than normal[11]. The resulting flooding

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DRY BUT STORMY SUMMERS

Climate change is having different impacts in different parts of the country. Despite a small overall increase in summer rainfall in England[5], the south-east has seen a decrease[14]. This is likely to get worse in future, with a projected 40% decrease in summer rainfall in this region by the 2080s, along with an increase in average summer temperatures of up to 4.2°C[15].

summer thunderstorms, with a significant increase in storms observed between 1960 and 2016[7,16]. Climate scientists predict from well-tested physical theories that, despite a substantial reduction in future average summer rainfall, by the 2080s extreme rainfall events will become more frequent in a warmer, moister environment[17].

Alongside drier weather comes a trend for more

CRUMBLING COURSES

The effects of climate change on the UK will involve more than changing rainfall patterns. Our coastline is also at risk from rising sea levels and storm surges. For some of the UK’s most iconic golf courses, coastal erosion is becoming a real problem.
The impacts on the coastline are twofold. Firstly, since 1900, sea levels have risen by an average of 15-20cm around the UK[18]. Sea-level rise is driven by climate change through the melting of

glaciers and ice sheets, and because the volume of the water in the oceans increases as it warms, a process known as thermal expansion[17]. Using satellite measurements of ice changes on Greenland and Antarctica, simulations have shown that sea levels could rise by a further 50-100cm by 2100[18]. Secondly, the rate of coastal erosion is likely to increase as a result of rising sea levels, more intense storms and increases in intense rainfall[19].

This report provides a snapshot of how the changing climate is already affecting some of the country’s most popular sports. The extreme weather being experienced by sportspeople today is in line with what climate scientists expect and have predicted, and these trends are only set to continue unless we collectively act, both
nationally and globally, to reduce our carbon emissions.

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G O L F

Golf is inextricably linked to the natural environment. The location, condition, playability, quality and presentation of golf courses is shaped by the climate. “A golf course… that works with nature rather than against it is normally more interesting and challenging,” says European Ryder Cup-winning captain Colin Montgomerie, who describes golf as “a test against the hazards that nature provided[20].”



The increase in heavy rainfall and bad weather which has affected golf clubs in the Glasgow area is typical of the increase in extreme rainfall we have seen in recent years. As temperatures increase, warmer air holds more moisture, meaning that we are very likely to see continued increases in heavy rain and more powerful storms, with a continued impact on golf courses across the country.
We will also see more damaging storm surges which, combined with rising sea levels, are likely to worsen the coastal erosion already being experienced by Montrose and other historic golf courses. Climate change is putting these historic links courses in the birthplace of golf at risk.

—Kate Sambrook, Priestley International Centre for Climate

are the oldest type of golf courses, developed in Scotland, and located on the coast on ‘links land’ – characterised by dunes, sandy soil and fine-textured grassland. The R&A, the governing body for golf outside the USA and Mexico, recognises the risk, while only a small increase in sea-level rise would imperil all of the world’s links courses before the end of the century.
Along with the damage they can do to course playability, increased rainfall and storms – exacerbated by climate change – are posing participation challenges.
“It [climate change] is certainly becoming a factor” said Steve Isaac, Director of Sustainability at The R&A. “Golf is impacted by climate change more than most other sports. Trends associated with climate change are resulting in periods of course closures, even during summer, with disruption seen to some professional tournaments. We are witnessing different types and timings of disease, pest and weed outbreaks. The future threats are very real, with course managers having to show adaptation if we are to maintain current standards of course condition. It is something we take very seriously.”

Now climate change is providing another hazard. Increased rainfall, more extreme weather events, coastal erosion and rising sea levels pose huge challenges to the game, and are already having an impact on the health of many clubs in Britain[21]. Unchecked, the impacts of climate change could significantly affect the sport over the long term, particularly in Scotland.
Sea-level rise poses the greatest long-term threat to golf in the UK. More than one in six of Scotland’s 600 golf courses are located on the coast – including the Old Course at St Andrews, Royal Troon and Montrose Golf Links in Angus. ‘Links’

MORE THAN 1 IN 6 OF SCOTLAND‘S GOLF COURSES ARE LOCAT ED ON THE COAST
Nationwide statistics on course closures in recreational golf are not collected centrally, but those at the sharp end recognise an increasing trend with potential long-term impacts on the game. Across England and Scotland there has been a 20% decline in golf club membership since 2005[22]. Of course we can’t lay all the blame on bad weather but sports administrators believe it is a contributing factor.

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Climate Coalition report,