Tottenham Hotspur defender Amy Turner and winter Olympian Chemmy Alcott joined sustainability leaders at SailGP’s latest Champions For Change event to discuss how climate change is affecting their sports.
The event, which took place in London, saw sustainability leaders and champions join together to discuss a variety of topics, including gender equity, climate action and sustainability practices.
Speaking with host David Garrido, alpine skier Alcott admitted that for many years she ‘buried [her] head in the sand’ as to ‘how much [her] competitive arena was changing and dying’. “It was just this repetitive cycle where I didn’t look up,” she said.
But a return visit to Chamonix’s legendary glacier Vallee Blanche, which has lost ‘more than 100m’ of ice since 1994, provided ‘unavoidable evidence of climate change’.
Turner meanwhile pointed to the challenge of ‘playing in extreme heat’, which ‘severely affects performance’, as well as match postponements due to waterlogged pitches.
“Those games have to get rearranged and you end up with a backlog of games at the end of the season where you’re playing two or three times a week,” she said.
Alcott added that ‘at elite level’, the sport of skiing is not doing enough to combat climate change. “The Federation of International Skiing knows its got to mitigate some of its environmental impact for our sport to exist, but not enough is being done,” she said.
Turner meanwhile pointed to several ‘great initiatives’ Tottenham Hotspur has adopted in its sustainability journey, including a ‘reduction in single use plastics’ and ‘protecting biodiversity’ with bug houses, tree planting initiatives and plans for a bat cave at the club’s training center.
“They might not seem that groundbreaking, but they are in the football world,” she said. She added that ‘historically’ the climate crisis has been seen as ‘quite far removed from sport’, but attitudes are changing.
“One can’t exist without the other, and I think athletes themselves that are speaking about these issues are changing the perception - especially to young people who look up to them.”
Alcott agreed, adding that ‘no corner of the world is immune to the climate crisis’. “It’s important for each of us to make our own ‘ripple effect’ and (…) do whatever we can, however big or small it might be,” she said.
Champions For Change is SailGP’s exclusive thought leadership programme, which brings together leaders and sustainability champions, to share key learnings, expertise and innovations around climate action and inclusivity in sport.