The league’s chief executive says football must do more to protect the planet and outlines an initiative to help clubs
The climate crisis is one of the biggest issues facing mankind and its impact on the lives of people in this country and around the globe is becoming ever more profound.
Professional sport will not be immune to those challenges and as an industry that relies on our natural environment, holds mass events every week and requires people to travel to facilitate our competition, we know we have a responsibility to do our bit to help protect the planet.
Much like our position on resetting football’s finances, achieving sustainability is the key. As Sir David Attenborough said about deforestation and the overfishing of our seas: “Anything that we can’t do forever is by definition, unsustainable. If we do things that are unsustainable, the damage accumulates, ultimately, to a point where the whole system collapses.”
We also know that football can inspire people and have a positive impact on many of society’s biggest matters by using its platform to help inspire change. Therefore there has never been a better time for the EFL and its clubs to make a collective commitment to improve our environmental practices and operations.
On Monday the league will announce details of EFL Green Clubs, a new league-wide initiative that will offer support to our 72 members to reduce their environmental impact via a benchmarking and development scheme delivered by the environmental specialists at GreenCode.
GreenCode is an environmental accreditation founded and managed by the people who have successfully pioneered numerous sustainability initiatives at Forest Green Rovers, leading to the club being recognised by the United Nations and Fifa as the most environmentally sustainable professional sports club in the world.
While we make no claim to the club’s success in this area, we are delighted to have the club as a member and it is fantastic to have the opportunity to work with the team behind their success to share their passion and expertise across the rest of the EFL.
Where the “world’s greenest football club” have succeeded by introducing such things as electric mobility, renewable power and a vegan menu into their matchday experience, similarly other EFL clubs are making changes in this area, be it through reviewing supply chains, reducing use of single-use plastic or producing playing kits from recycled materials. But whatever stage of the journey, all of our clubs will be welcomed to the scheme and given education and ongoing practical assistance to green their business.
EFL Green Clubs is a scheme to help clubs in an ever-evolving field, with participants receiving an independent assessment of their environmental credentials, looking at business practices across eight areas including energy, waste and procurement. Clubs who score well will receive a 12-month Kitemark and an annual audit score, while those at the start of their environmental improvement journey will be supported by the GreenCode improvement plan.
As part of our commitment to this work, the EFL itself will be going through the GreenCode accreditation and our charitable arm, the EFL Trust, will be contributing through the appointment of a sustainable development coordinator who will help embed sustainable development officers at club community organisations across the country through the Kickstart programme. These roles will have access to an accredited environmental sustainability qualification and details of our joint commitment will be outlined on Monday at the EFL Trust national conference at St George’s Park.
It is quite fitting to announce this significant partnership at the home of football and, with Cop26 in the UK next month, we must seize the opportunity to make a positive impact for the future of our game and, more importantly, the future of our planet.