"I want to be part of the solution"
Biggest Player-Led Climate Action in History
A collective of 44 leading players from Canada, Denmark, Italy, and Sweden have committed to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their flights to and from the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. The players are supporting a combination of climate resilience and carbon offsetting and adaptation initiatives.
Danish midfielder Sofie Junge Pedersen, who was determined to create a meaningful method for players to mitigate the negative environmental impacts of travelling to Australia and New Zealand, created the initiative. Canadian midfielder Jessie Fleming and Italian defender Elena Linari have helped turn the campaign into an international movement, working to get other players from their national teams to join.
While understanding that donating to climate resilience, carbon offsetting and adaptation initiatives are not the solutions to solve the climate crisis, the campaign recognises that these are short-term tools to compensate for players' flights to and from the World Cup.
“I want to ensure my World Cup experience has a positive environmental legacy,” said Sofie.
“Climate change is the biggest issue humanity faces, and I want to be part of the solution. While there are no current sustainable solutions to aviation, as players we are setting an example, and taking a tangible step in the right direction.”
A key policy objective of the campaign is to inspire governing bodies to make carbon a key criterion in the bidding process for tournaments.
Jessie, who scored in the Tokyo Olympic final to help Canada win gold in football for the first time in country history, said, “This is a topic I feel passionate about, and I hope this action my teammates and I are taking accelerates the climate conversation and sets a precedent for what athletes can do to push for more environmental policies in football.”
The campaign relies on a rigorous and scientific methodology to calculate the environmental impact of the players' flights to and from the World Cup, using the US Government’s social cost of carbon ($51 per tonne) to calculate the size of the donation. The players then donate the money to a combination of climate resilience, carbon offsetting and adaptation initiatives run by WWF (Australia, New Zealand) and DanChurchAid. These initiatives are based in Australia, New Zealand, and Uganda.
“The fact that this is a player-led initiative is inspiring. Like all players, I’m focused on doing the best I can at the World Cup, but I also want to acknowledge that football has an impact on the planet, and most importantly, do something concrete about it,” commented Elena Linari, AS Roma and Italy international.
Football For Future, a UK-based climate advocacy football non-profit, and Common Goal facilitated the campaign and supported the players alongside their journey.
“Governing bodies need to acknowledge the impact that their tournaments have on the natural world and introduce carbon considerations as key criteria in the bidding process for hosting future tournaments,” said Football For Future Founder, Elliot Arthur-Worsop.
The campaign aims to inspire everyone in football to take responsibility for tackling climate change.