Premier League clubs praised for climate progress but league criticized

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illustrate, In recent years, Premier League clubs have taken part in Green Football Weekends to raise awareness of climate change and sustainability

  • author, David Lockwood
  • Role, Head of Sustainability, BBC Sports Editorial

Top-flight English football clubs have been praised for being more proactive than ever on sustainability measures, but critics say the Premier League itself still “lacks moral leadership”.

A new report from the Sport Positive Alliance has seen a shift away from the ‘league table’ it once was, largely because of the progress clubs have made on their environmental impact.

Founder Clare Poole said “things have changed” five years since it started ranking clubs in areas such as match experience and green stadium facilities.

Poole said: “Clubs are now engaging with the topic more frequently – 16 Premier League clubs now have sustainability pages on their websites; six clubs have set net zero carbon targets; first-team players are appearing more frequently at clubs Video recycling promotes sustainable development.

“This new report makes it easy for clubs, fans, journalists and anyone in the sports ecosystem to find information related to top English football clubs, and although there is still much work to be done, since the launch of Sport magazine, the club has Progress over the past five years since Positive Leagues began collating this information in 2019 has improved significantly.

Nottingham Forest finished bottom of the table in 2023 and have since signed up to the United Nations framework, publishing emissions and developing a club-wide strategy.

  • Three clubs have received external recognition for their environmental or sustainability efforts
  • Five clubs sign the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Sport for climate action
  • Six clubs set net zero targets
  • Six clubs have on-site clean energy generation at their stadiums, academies or training grounds
  • Seven clubs develop sustainable transport policies

Earlier this year, following “extensive consultation” between clubs and the league’s sustainability working group, the Premier League published a “Sustainability Commitment” as a minimum standard for clubs.

It emphasizes that the club develops “robust” policies and greenhouse gas data sets and helps develop a “shared framework for action”.

But the Premier League as an organization has been criticized for not publishing a sustainability strategy in two-and-a-half years, hosting a 2023 pre-season summer series involving six teams in the United States and not addressing clubs’ use of domestic Flight issues.

Wycombe Wanderers midfielder David Wheeler, who spoke on behalf of the Professional Footballers’ Association on sustainability issues, told BBC Sport: “The wait for a sustainability strategy to come out is, to say the least, two years in the making. The year and a half dragged on.

“The lack of ethical leadership seems to be a common thread at the top of different football organisations, whether it’s FIFA or now the Premier League.

“There are many sustainability professionals in sport doing incredible work behind the scenes, but CEOs and board members appear to be standing in the way of positive change.”

Wheeler called for restrictions on domestic flights and said the league was “condoning” preseason games that were causing “massive emissions,” adding that the ever-expanding football schedule was harming players and the environment.

“You can’t achieve infinite growth on a finite planet,” he said.

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