The MCC – one of the world’s oldest, most famous and most active sporting institutions – joined a group of Premier League clubs, Olympic Gold Medallist Chris Boardman and Britain’s mountaineers, skiiers and surfers in backing The Climate Coalition’s Show The Love campaign on Valentine’s Day yesterday. The MCC’s support follows Saturday’s day of action at yesterday’s Premier League tie between Bournemouth and Stoke City at the Vitality Stadium with managers Mark Hughes and Eddie Howe wearing a green heart badge – the campaign’s emblem – during the game, and activities for young supporters
They joined a host of celebrities, businesses and more than one hundred prominent charities in one of the biggest environmental campaigns the UK has ever seen.
Derek Brewer, Chief Executive and Secretary of the MCC, owners of Lords and guardians of the rules of cricket, said: “Marylebone Cricket Club is committed to sustainability because our changing planet affects our sport. We love the history and heritage of Lord’s, the unique playing conditions that are so dependent on the weather, and the way cricket unites players and fans around the world. We are supporting the Show The Love campaign to show our commitment to protecting the things we love.”
AFC Bournemouth’s Commercial Director Rob Mitchell added that the club had shown commitment to the local environment through its Green Goals scheme instituted six years ago: “At AFC Bournemouth we already have a number of initiatives to keep our carbon footprint down such as installing LED floodlighting in the summer, having all of our waste sorted and recycled and installing bike racks to encourage more supporters to cycle to the game.
“Football clubs are a big part of communities up and down the country, many of whom have recently been affected by extreme weather and flooding, and we are really looking forward to coming together and showing our greener side with Show The Love this weekend.”
Stoke City Chief Executive Tony Scholes said: “The sight of Carlisle United’s pitch under water and the devastation flood water caused to homes, businesses and communities in Cumbria recently underlines the threat climate change poses on our doorstep. We are proud to be supporting the Show the Love campaign and striving to raise the awareness of the need to address the issue of climate change, both globally and closer to home.”
The impact of extreme weather on sport is increasing and this move reflects work across sports clubs and governing bodies, driven by BASIS (British Association for Sustainable Sport), to reduce their environmental impact and become more sustainable.
Along with to exposure to extreme weather, sports clubs and organisations are focal points for their communities and for the country and their support for this campaign signals a clear commitment to persuade supporters, members and staff of the need to work together to tackle climate change.
The campaign is also being supported by other Premier League clubs, including Everton, Southampton and West Ham, who join the British Mountaineering Council, the Ski Club of Great Britain and cycling star Chris Boardman MBE adding their voice.
Boardman, a former hour world record holder and wearer of the Tour de France’s yellow jersey, said: “As a professional cyclist, I was lucky to have the chance to ride and race through some unique and beautiful landscapes, and my love of nature has only increased since I stopped racing. But I support Show The Love because of something much closer to home – 29,000 people in our country died last year because of air pollution. That’s far too high, and it’s avoidable.
“I want my children to be able to ride to school, move through town and enjoy the outdoors without worrying their health is being put at risk. If we don’t make our voices heard now it could be too late. Why should the next generation be denied what my generation has been able to enjoy?”
Former British skier Chemmy Alcott has already tweeted her backing and Frank McCusker, Chief Executive of the Ski Club of Great Britain, the UK’s largest snow sports membership club said: “Since 2004 when the Ski Club issued our own Environmental policy, we’ve been a huge advocate of safeguarding our natural environment and the long-term future of snowsports. We’re wholly behind and proud to support the Show The Love campaign and the great work it’s doing to highlight the importance of protecting our surroundings and the future of the planet.”
Fellow mountain dwellers the British Mountaineering Association have seen first-hand the impact of a changing climate. Their CEO Dave Turnbull said: “The BMC is supporting this campaign as climate change is already having a great impact on the world’s mountains. Extreme weather events and rapidly melting glaciers are endangering the survival of mountain peoples as well as specialised ecosystems. The loss of some Alpine climbing is already apparent. We all need to start taking steps to safeguard the future of our mountains.”
Likewise Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage CEO said surfers were also concerned: “Increased intense storm activity will wreak havoc with the coast and result in increased sewer overflow discharges polluting the seas. Surfers Against Sewage support the movement towards 100% renewables to help protect the coast.”
Such widespread support within sport for an environmental campaign is unpredicted, but sustainability champions have been heartened by the news.
Forest Green Rovers of the Conference Premier, owned by renewable energy company Ecotricity, is the world’s first vegan football club, with the world’s first organic pitch, a rain-recyclable irrigation system and a stadium fitted with solar panels.
First team manager Ady Pennock said: “I’m delighted that our players, fans and club have been able to support the Show the Love campaign. Raising awareness of the importance of looking after the environment plays a big role at Forest Green Rovers, and it’s great that we can use football as a tool to broadcast that message.”
Russell Seymour, founder and chair of BASIS, which brings together key figures in sport to share best practice and counts the ECB, the Jockey Club and Twickenham, Emirates and Millennium stadia among its members, said: “BASIS prides itself on supporting the sport sector in its commitment to becoming a sustainable industry. All sports will be affected by climate change, some more than others, with some already affected. It is because we are all impacted by changes to our planet that we need to come together. We are supporting the SHOW THE LOVE campaign because it’s time for us all to come together to protect the things we love”
Astronaut and rugby fan, Tim Peake, who watched last week’s 6 Nations match between Scotland and England on the BBC will be tweeting his support for the campaign from the International Space Station.