The who’s who of Australian sport, led by former Wallabies captain David Pocock, has been brought together in a new initiative aimed at harnessing the platforms of high-profile athletes to tackle the climate crisis.
The campaign, called The Cool Down, was launched on Monday by Pocock who has focused on conservation and climate activism after leaving rugby union in 2020.
Pocock is joined by more than 300 current and former athletes who have written an open letter to the country’s leaders calling for bold action as extreme weather events become more common and “our Australian way of life, including sport at all Levels “is at risk.
The group, which includes Pat Cummins, Cate and Bronte Campbell, Lance Franklin, Rohan Browning, Darcy Vescio, Mick Fanning, Craig Foster, Ian Chappell, Liz Ellis and Mark Webber, hopes to encourage Australians to make their voices heard . It has supported scientific demands for the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
The campaign highlighted the link between extreme weather events and sports – including the effects of heat on the Australian Open tennis tournament recently and the effects of bushfire smoke on professional sports – and Pocock called for bold action.
“The people and places we love and the sports we love so much are at risk from climate change,” said Pocock. “We have the resources in our own backyard to be the world leader in this area, and as a sports nation we are used to appearing on the world stage. It is time we took advantage of this to focus on strong climate action. “
The latest assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released earlier this month, found that human activity was clearly warming the planet, causing changes not seen for centuries, and in some cases millennia.
The world’s leading authority on climate science found that greenhouse gas emissions were already affecting weather and climate extremes in all regions of the world, leading to increased heat waves, increased rainfall, and more intense droughts and tropical cyclones, the report said. In Australia, it was found that average temperatures over the country had risen by around 1.4 ° C since 1910.
“The future of sport is more uncertain than ever, but its power has never been so important,” reads the open letter to which people are invited.
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“Australians have always beaten above our weight on the world stage and it is time to do that with the climate.”
Professor Mark Howden, director of the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions, said any delay in addressing Australia’s poor record in emissions reductions would have dire consequences.
“If we don’t take quick and energetic global measures to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, the world could have exceeded 1.5 ° C by the time of the Brisbane Olympics in 2032, falling short of the lower of the two temperature targets set out in the Paris Agreement. “Said Howden, who is also vice chairman of the IPCC.
“This could come at a time when all eyes are on Australia and attention is drawn to our contributions to reducing emissions.”
No major sports organization in Australia includes climate change in their annual reporting, and former Diamonds netball coach Ellis said the campaign was “our part on the ground to get this important message across.”
“As athletes, we recognize the role we play in our sport-loving country and support the generations of athletes who will come after us. We have the opportunity to take action in our space and use our platform to accelerate the change we need to see, ”said Ellis.
Other athletes who name the campaign include current Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, AFL footballer Nat Fyfe and AFLW star Daisy Pearce, Nathan Cleary from the NRL, golfer Karrie Webb, cricketer Rachael Haynes and the Matildas duo Tameka Yallop and Alanna Kennedy.
The Australian government is facing increasing pressure to increase the emissions target set six years ago for 2030 – a 26-28% reduction from 2005 – and to join the more than 100 countries that are joining the mid-century net zero emissions target have set.
Earlier this month, Dr. Jonathan Pershing, the Guardian’s Assistant to US Climate Officer John Kerry, said Australia’s targets are “insufficient” and the country should consider reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Australia was “out of step” with the rest of the world, and former EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström warned that at a time when the world is becoming increasingly isolated, “ more and more isolated ”is affected by floods, fires and droughts.