Quarter of English football league grounds at risk of flooding within 30 years,

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A quarter of English league football grounds are at risk from flooding over the next three decades, a new report into the impact of climate change on sport reveals.

The report, Playing against the clock, published by the environmental group Rapid Transition Alliance, outlines how a myriad of sports face major threats due to weather associated with climate change. One in three Open Championship golf courses are expected to be damaged by rising sea levels. Around the world, half of previous Winter Olympic cities will be unreliable hosts of winter sports.

Twenty-three clubs in the English Football League or Premier League can expect partial or total annual flooding of their stadiums by 2050. In the Premier League, Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge, West Ham’s Olympic Stadium, Southampton’s St Mary’s and Norwich’s Carrow Road are all stadiums under threat. In the Championship, both Hull City and Cardiff City’s grounds face being entirely under water by 2050.

Even some grounds that are not directly affected face huge challenges. Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium is expected to avoid flooding – but boats could be needed to get fans to the ground across the wide-flooded plains of the city.

“From flooding to sweltering heat, even sport can’t escape the climate emergency,” said Rosie Rogers from Greenpeace UK, calling on sport to step up its attempts to combat climate change. “The industry has a chance to think about how to do things differently and what their own green recovery could look like. Whether that’s switching planes for trains, ditching single use plastic or cutting fossil fuel sponsorship, sport can show it’s on the winning side as we take the climate crisis head on.”

The global emission caused by sport around the world, including travel for spectators, could be as high as the emissions of a nation like Spain.

The report calls on sports to be much more proactive in addressing climate change. It suggests that every sports organisation should commit to a carbon zero plan by 2030 – partly by using carbon offsetting if necessary, following UEFA’s plans to offset all spectator aviation emissions generated by Euro 2020 – with sports federations that are not carbon zero excluded from the Olympics. It advocates that governments make carbon zero plans a precondition for any funding that they award sports federations, and calls on all sports bodies to sign the UN Sports and Climate Action Framework, highlighting the Premier League, the International Cricket Council and the England & Wales Cricket Boards as high-profile bodies which have yet to do so.

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