THE CLIMATE COUNCIL is calling for Aussie sports to ditch their polluting fossil fuel sponsors after Tennis Australia dumped oil and gas giant Santos, a year into what was meant to be a multi-year sponsorship.
Almost 12 months after some of the nation’s most high profile athletes, including Australian Cricket Captain Pat Cummins, called for greater climate action, the Climate Council has welcomed the decision to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry from one of Australia’s biggest sporting events.
Australia’s summer of sport is under threat from climate change, which is being driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas. Recent examples include:
- Temperatures at the Australian Open Tennis in Melbourne have repeatedly hit +40°C with games suspended and players taken to hospital.
- In 2018 and again in 2019, dangerous heatwaves forced organisers of the Santos Tour Down Under cycle event to shorten the route.
- In 2018, at the Sydney Ashes Test, England’s captain Joe Root was hospitalised as air temperature hit 41.9°C.
- Bushfires smoke from the 2019-20 Black Summer exposed athletes and spectators at all levels to dangerous air pollution.
- In November 2020, AFL Northern Territory league implemented an extreme heat policy with mid-30°C temperatures forecast for weekend games.
Dr Martin Rice, the Climate Council’s Director of Research, said:
“Santos is a huge contributor to climate change, and yet it’s sponsoring some of our most beloved sports including Rugby Australia and the Santos Tour Down Under, the largest cycle race in the southern hemisphere that is taking place right now in South Australia.”
“Other fossil fuel sponsored sporting codes must take note of this move by Tennis Australia and kick fossil fuel-backed companies into touch. Sporting clubs and codes can also rapidly cut their own greenhouse gas emissions by changing the way they build venues, power events, travel and by cutting waste.”
“Fossil fuel companies sponsoring our sporting events, from a professional to community level, makes as much sense as if they were being supported by the tobacco industry. We ditched tobacco sponsorship in sport, now we need to do the same for polluting coal, oil and gas companies, which are driving worsening climate change and putting the future of sports at risk.”
Australian sport is worth $50 billion to the economy and employs over 220,000 people, but governments are ill prepared for escalating climate risks. You can