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Activity sector launches drive to net-zero

  • A new alliance called the Sport Environment and Climate Coalition (SECC) has launched.

  • It will lead the activity sector towards the net-zero target.

  • Nine organisations, including UK Active and the Sport and Recreation Alliance, are members.

  • An ambitious roadmap will reveal how net-zero can be achieved.

The health, fitness and activity sector is ramping up its sustainability drive to net-zero with the launch of a new alliance called the Sport Environment and Climate Coalition (SECC).

The new body will support the sector to decarbonise – a challenge that has assumed great importance since the start of the war in Ukraine and the accompanying increase in energy prices.

The first challenge will be to assess the current level of awareness, understanding and action on climate change and environmental sustainability. Following this, the SECC will then pinpoint what support is needed to create long-term change.

An ambitious roadmap will then set out how the transformation to net-zero can be achieved across the industry, in parallel with SECC support and guidance.

The alliance will also generate and promote a campaign that shines a spotlight on the threat of climate change and the importance of environmental sustainability.

Members of the cross-sector collaboration are the Sport and Recreation Alliance; UK Active; the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE); the British Association for Sustainable Sport (BASIS); Sport England; Sport Scotland; Sport Wales and UK Sport.

Assessing, and then tackling, how the sector operates is essential for creating strategies that will result in a reduced carbon footprint.

With the industry having such a unique influence on both businesses and communities worldwide, the SECC will also aim to harness the power of change to inspire positive global climate action.

Commenting on the launch, Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “The sport and physical activity sector has a responsibility to help address the environmental and sustainability challenges facing our planet. We're proud to be part of the SECC and we are more determined than ever to lead on this agenda and work with the sector in the modernisation of its operations to help achieve our shared ambitions for net-zero.

"Our industry takes this responsibility incredibly seriously and we will work with our coalition partners to drive awareness and positive change among our members and the wider sector.”

Combatting the sector’s carbon footprint is a pressing problem, but some operators have already started their green transformation.

Gold's Gym, part of RSG Group, has opened a carbon-neutral gym in Berlin, with user-generated energy, solar flower arrays and green interiors.

The Gym Group has been working towards net-zero using the Science Based Targets Initiative. Its strategy includes purchasing electricity from renewable sources, using a heat pump instead of gas, installing low-energy fans and lighting with LED. It recently claimed to be the world’s first carbon-neutral gym chain.

“Don’t underestimate the difficulty of the world achieving net zero in a meaningful and substantive way within the economic system and competitive environment we all operate in,” said David Melhuish, chief development and sustainability officer at The Gym Group. “It will take local and national leadership to step up and create the right environment for it to happen.”

SportsArt produces fitness equipment that feeds energy back into the grid, reducing the carbon load of clubs. The company has also invested in solar panels that generate 50 per cent of the energy required in its factories and created a rainwater collection system that provides water for its manufacturing process.

“Our advice is to start by dividing your green path into categories to properly analyse where improvements could be made,” Luci Fini, EMEA marketing manager at SportsArt told HCM magazine. “For example, energy savings, flooring, furniture and mobility – and systematically work through them.”

To set sustainable change in motion, Fini also suggested incentives for members that encourage greener habits. “Discounts based on the energy generated during their workouts, or for travelling by public transport or bike, would be extremely beneficial.”

Under the Paris Agreement, 196 countries have committed to running net-zero economies by 2050. This will make it possible for the world to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C.


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