SailGP becomes first sport to reward athletes for positive climate change initiatives

·3-min read
SailGP

SailGP’s new Impact League hopes to kickstart a climate change emergency in the sporting world, according to purpose and impact director Fiona Morgan.

Morgan, who was appointed the newly-created role in October last year, helped implement the Impact League as part of the Sail GP, and thinks it has the potential to change the sporting landscape.

The Impact League, which was launched in Plymouth this week ahead of the third race of the season, gives sailing crews points for their positive actions towards climate change, from reusing equipment rather than replacing it to the clothes the crew wears.

And Morgan said: “It's the first ever time a sport has ever really integrated, not just racing for performance, but racing for the planet.

“That’s to make our sport and the environment better, so it's a brave step and it's one that we hope inspires other sports to do the same.

“The New Zealand team are winning and they launched their boats in partner with Live Ocean charity so it's embedded in their mindset.

“Some of the sailing teams are really passionate because they're on the water and that's their racetrack but they're understanding what they do and their carbon footprint. It's that education piece.

“The goal for the Impact League is really making sustainability competitive, which will make people change their behaviours quicker.

“I think climate change is such a massive issue that people don't really understand and they need to act so quickly.

“We're hoping the Impact League makes us, as a sport, more sustainable, make our athletes and teams more sustainable, and obviously using our voice to tell our fans and host cities to be more sustainable.

“The Impact League has the potential to inspire other sports and other industries. We really want to integrate it.

“This is not just a project; it needs to be ingrained in how we operate now. This is a responsibility everybody has. We need to think of businesses and sport differently.”

Professor Jason Hall-Spencer from the University of Plymouth, who specialises in Marine Biology, has also backed the launch.

He added: “Big cities of the world are coastal, and there's only one ocean and by warming up the atmosphere we're melting ice that's going into the sea and we're decreasing the density of the sea.

“Those two things combined are causing the sea levels to rise and by 2050, we think there will be a half metre level rise in water.

“I think the fact the sailors involved in the competition are telling people passionately about what they're doing is fantastic.

“From reducing the amount they waste, to reducing the amount of bulk that is being flown around the earth, and changing their diet and all of these things are really good.

“It literally is an emergency we face in terms of the amount of sea level rising we are getting, the amount of storminess we're getting and the fact that sailing is a cleaner way of moving people around is excellent.”

The Impact League is a new initiative designed to make sustainability action essential to the fabric of sport. To find out more about the Impact League visit SailGP.com/ImpactLeague

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