Hockey League's carbon footprint

| 11th June 2020
Sport needs to do more to combat climate change.

Sports organisations that need to rethink the design of leagues and schedules, as this will be the only way to reduce the emissions of sports from an aviation perspective.

Andrew Welfle, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester, has called on sporting organisations to lead from the front and help cut down on the excessive travel methods which are causing such damage to the planet.

The postponement of the National Hockey League has prevented more than 200 tonnes of CO2 in carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere due to team travel, new research carried out by NHL Emissions Report has revealed.

The NHL features one of the biggest carbon footprint in world sport, with research revealing that 1,430 tonnes CO2 were emitted in 2019 in travel to and from away fixtures, but recent developments show just how the global lockdown has had a positive effect on the environment.


The postponement - which started on 12 March - means that 206t CO2 has been saved by the 31 teams in the NHL, after calculating the average CO2 produced by each side in their remaining fixtures.

Welfie told NHL Emissions Report: “The carbon footprint of all major sports teams and its players is often several magnitudes higher than that of other people. In the majority of cases the majority of blame cannot justifiably be focused on specific teams and players – they have to travel to attend fixtures and keep to schedule. 

“It is the wider sports organisations that need to rethink the design of leagues and schedules, as this will be the only way to reduce the emissions of sports from an aviation perspective.”

He also called on sport to start leading from the front with the topic of climate change now more prominent than ever before.

“At the minute sports teams do get away with the amount of travel they do both nationally and internationally. However, with climate change and emissions rising up the agenda and with many countries developing tough emission reduction targets, the time is coming when sport has to do its bit."


Welfie continued: “Like many organisations, sport is still coming to terms with what needs to be done and have not yet grasped that they may need to make some hard decisions to decarbonise once all the ‘low hanging’ actions have been achieved.

“By better structuring of leagues and fixture schedules with a view to reducing the need for frequent flying would likely provide reductions in emissions far larger than that that could be offset by any program of tree planting for example.”

NHL Emissions Report calculates the distance travelled by each team for every away match in 2019 to the nearest airport of the opposing team, and some of the results are made more shocking when compared to alternative uses for the energy used.

The amount of carbon emitted by the Kings last year was the equivalent to the amount of energy used by 7.1 homes a year and the same as charging 7,832,571 smartphones.

This Article 

This article is based on a press release from the Spin Sports.

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