By Celine Lai

Image from Pixabay

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

Page 69 of the Report looks at fossil fuel companies supporting sports events. 

The Climate Council’s report says that Santos recently entered a multiyear partnership with the Australia Open as its ‘Official Natural Gas Partner’. Comms Declare, an industry body representing hundreds of workers in advertising, media, public relations and marketing, has criticised the Australian Open for accepting Santos as an ‘Official Natural Gas Partner’.

According to Comms Declare:

The gas giant and ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) Cup announced the multi-year partnership despite Tennis Australia being the first sporting organisation to commit to the United Nations Sports for Climate Change Action Framework.

On page 69 of the Climate Council’s Report, the Council states:

“Accelerating climate change is already having devastating impacts on sport and our communities in Australia and around the world. It is time for sports teams and athletes to consider the climate impacts of their corporate sponsorship deals, and to consider ending partnerships or refusing to partner with companies contributing to the problem rather than the solution.” 


                  Image from the Climate Council’s Report, page 70


The Report outlines initiatives taken by sports proponents. For example, page 63 states that the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) signed onto the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework in 2019 and has introduced a range of strategies to reduce emissions. It has formed a working party with Richmond Football Club and Tennis Australia, both based around the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the major venue managed by the MCC.  

Page 64 of the Climate Council’s reports states that, at the international level, both the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and world motor sport governing body FIA have announced they would set science based emissions reduction targets in alignment with the Paris Agreement goal of remaining well below 2°C of global warming (Sustainability Report 2020). The report looks at how this can be practically and genuinely achieved.

Page 56 states that the International Olympic Committee will require host nations to run ‘climate positive’ Olympic Games from 2030.

This thorough report which looks at global sport and climate change, climate change impacts on sport, future global climate and sport, and opportunities for taking immediate and long-term positive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, is well worth downloading and reading, and sharing.

Section 7 of the report (snapshot above) looks at practical ways that the sports industry can make positive changes. Sections 1 to 6 cover global sport’s part in climate change and the impacts of climate change on sports.

You can download the Climate Council’s report, Game, Set, Match: Calling Time on Climate Inaction at the webpage below.

You can send your message to Tennis Australia and the Australian Open to stop sponsorship by Santos, Australia’s second-largest independent oil and gas producer. For our climate to be restored, there can be no new fossil gas projects, according to the International Energy Agency.

And the Australian Energy Market Operator has said that gas production will naturally fall over this decade.

The Australian Open’s contact form is at the link below.  Let them know that Tennis Australia must follow through with its commitment to the United Nations Sports for Climate Change Action Framework .