By Celine Lai

News outlets across Australia, such as a report by “The Guardian”, have reported that 300 high-profile Australian athletes, led by David Pocock, are joining the climate movement.

The campaign, named The Cool Down, was launched on 30 August by Pocock who, after retiring from rugby union in 2020, has focused his energies on conservation and climate activism.

The Cool Down has penned an open digital letter to the nation’s leaders, encouraging bold action on climate, as extreme weather events become more frequent and “our Australian way of life, including sport at every level” is jeopardised.

The group, which includes Pat Cummins, Cate and Bronte Campbell, Lance Franklin, Rohan Browning, Darcy Vescio, Mick Fanning, Craig Foster, Ian Chappell, Liz Ellis and Mark Webber, hopes to encourage Australians to make their voices heard.

It has backed scientific calls for the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 50% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions before 2050. The Guardian also reports Pocock as saying:

“The people and places we love, as well as the sports we love so much are threatened by climate change,” Pocock said. “We have the resources in our own backyard to be a world leader in this field and, as a sporting nation, we’re used to performing on the world stage. It’s time we harness that to focus on strong climate action.”


The Climate Council describes how climate change is affecting sport in Australia, and how sport can also be a powerful force for change. Game, Set, Match: Calling Time on Climate Inaction is a 91-page report published in 2021. In this report, the Climate Council states:

  • Australia can help protect sport by becoming part of the global solution to climate change by rapidly and deeply reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to renewable energy and storage.
  • Sporting clubs and codes contribute to climate change but can rapidly cut their own greenhouse gas emissions by changing the way they build venues, power events, travel and by cutting waste. 
  • Athletes and other sporting leaders can become powerful advocates for change, both within sport and outside of it, by using their star appeal to educate and influence others.
  • Professional and community sports can switch sponsorship from fossil fuel-backed companies to ones that invest in climate solutions.

Read more about the Climate Councils findings by clicking here.

The Cool Down highlights that it is time for athletes to call for sporting events to end their partnership with fossil fuel companies; for example, Santos’ sponsorship of the Australian Open tennis tournament in 2021 and beyond, despite Tennis Australia being the first sporting organisation to commit to the United Nations Sports for Climate Change Action Framework.  

The Environmental Defenders Office, acting on behalf of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), has filed a Federal Court case against gas giant Santos over its claims natural gas is “clean fuel” and that it has a credible pathway to net zero emissions by 2040.

If you know an athlete, get them to join The Cool Down. Or if you are an athlete, sign it yourself!

If you’re not athletic, but are passionate about kicking fossil fuels out of our sports, we’d love to hear from you.

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