Longer seasons and smarter travel could make sports more sustainable

COVID clean up the globe last spring—bringing with it a rapid halt to worldwide events, concerts, and sporting events. A way less bustling world came to a record-breaking decline in emissions.

A new study in biology & Technology investigated climate solutions in professional sport-based travel, examining how different leagues across North America contributed to gas emissions. Estimated emissions for 2018 were about 121,841 tonnes of CO2, which is over 20 percent on top of emissions in 2020—largely because of frequent flights. Professional teams often use private jets and other non-commercial styles of transit, therefore the emissions per person are often more than the typical one that isn’t a knowledgeable athlete.

Additional reductions in air emissions could even be achieved by using more fuel-efficient aircraft and shortened regular seasons,” the authors write within the study.

Study author Seth Wynes, a postdoctoral researcher in geography at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada explains that lower emissions at the beginning of the pandemic in spring of 2020 are proof that sports teams can mitigate their emissions. Short, cramped sports seasons may be the culprit of upper emissions. as an example, conference Baseball plays over 100 games for a touch over 7-month long season annually, compared to the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s 6-month season and therefore the National League (NHL)’s about the 6-month season.

Baseball teams often stay in a part and play several games therein the same city before moving on versus going from sporting arena to sporting arena after a game or two. Wynes also points out that one reason for top professional sports-related emissions across North America may have lots to try and do with infrastructure or lack thereof. The U.S. doesn’t have a connected high-speed rail like many other industrialized countries do, meaning teams often should fly across the country to form it to sporting events in time. As an example, across Europe, there are discussions of constructing sporting events, specifically European football or soccer, Europe more sustainable by utilizing existing infrastructure like stadiums rather than building new ones and offsetting any environmental cost from a disciple and team travel.

Ultimately, Wynes hopes that sports teams that are often flush with cash can help invest in “sustainable aviation fuels” or biofuels made of renewable biomass and waste resources, per the Department of Energy. There aren’t many airlines who have publicly announced their use of SAFs but United Airlines announced that it might use the biofuel to scale back its emissions to about 50 percent by 2035. United has also committed to purchasing over a billion gallons of SAFs over the following 20 years to fulfill its carbon reduction goals. The aviation industry is notoriously difficult to decarbonize because there isn’t much competition which suggests less change over time, but with the assistance of funding from high-profile teams, the change could happen faster.