Will We Have To Sacrifice International Sporting Events Until Aviation Becomes Greener?

Between the beginning of August and mid-November, the European Tour will travel to ten different countries before the season comes to an end. From the United States to Dubai and then China, Europe’s premier golfing tour will cross the globe over the next few months as the world’s best golfers compete in some of the most far-flung places on the map.


It’s not just professional golf that will see a huge amount of travel towards the back end of the year as the world’s best tennis players will descend on New York for the 141st edition of the US Open. One just has to look at the latest US Open tennis odds to get an understanding that the large majority of players will be pioneering across the Atlantic from Europe to compete. In fact, there isn’t an American in the top twenty favorites on the men’s list. Indeed, the globe’s best players will be heading to their local European airports before flying to the Big Apple.

We could go on and on as far as examples of professional sports travel in 2021 goes. The Formula 1 itinerary for the remainder of the year will see the drivers make their way through 11 different passport control gates before the season is out, and Europe’s most prestigious domestic football competition will begin in September as the best teams begin jetting into the fabled capitals of the continent to do battle in the Champions League.

Professional sport as you can see is an international business but the fight to beat climate change will be the most important battle of our lifetime. So with this in mind, is there an argument to be had about pausing international sport until we have the technology to ensure aviation no longer has to rely on fossil fuels?

This could of course be an indefinite suspension given that we are a long way off that happening. With that said we could see a shift in the world’s thinking and a focusing of minds after a major UN scientific report on climate change was described as a ‘code red for humanity. ‘


Basically, the time to act is now and not 2050, and if the world is to win the war on climate change, there will need to be urgent discussions about contributing factors like air travel.
One positive is that aviation’s contribution towards greenhouse emissions is relatively small when compared to other industries. Two years ago it only accounted for 2.5% of the world’s CO2 emissions which suggests that this is a battle that is more than winnable.

The introduction of electrofuels, more efficient planes, and a change in flight routes will help curb the conditions for making contrails, the world can fly greener and still enjoy the wonder of travel.
But until then and given how pressing the need is, there should be a conversation about the distance that the world’s best athletes have to cover in order to compete. It won’t be the straw on the camel’s back, no, but it’s crucial we all buy into this and a change in mindset among some of the world’s most influential people will springboard change.

Ultimately, this will ensure that in the long run, the world is able to witness and enjoy a golfing event on the windswept coast of St Andrews, a thrilling F1 race on the streets of Monte Carlo, or a cricket match under the lights on a summer’s night in Cape Town.

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