How global warming will impact French sports activities

Heatwaves, faster melting snow and glaciers, increasing droughts… The consequences of global warming are extremely numerous and will spare no one, and especially not the world of sport, whether amateur or professional. In a report published this Tuesday, July 6, and produced with the financial support of the Ministry of Sports, WWF France assesses its impact on the sports practice of the French. Unsurprisingly, its findings are alarming.

“Two thirds of French people are already strongly exposed to climate risk”

To carry out this analysis, WWF drew two scenarios of climate change: a scenario of + 2 degrees of global average temperature and a scenario of + 4 degrees. With a frequency of heatwaves set to double by 2050, global warming could cause us to lose up to 24 days of sports practice in the first scenario, and up to 2 months in the second, quantified the NGO, which recalls that physical efforts are not recommended from 32 degrees.

Maps of the number of additional days per year for which the maximum temperature will exceed 32 ° C.

There is no need, moreover, to wait until 2050 to feel the first effects of this global warming. Rising temperatures are already shaking up the world of professional sport. During the 2014 Australian Open, the hot weather endangered the health of athletes and spectators, and led to a record number of withdrawals. In France, during the heatwave episode of June 2019, the organizers of the Ironman in Nice had to shorten the distances of the event.

At the highest level, it is therefore to be expected that the evolution of the climate will affect the performance of athletes: the ideal temperature for high-intensity sports for a short period of time is around 23 degrees, but as soon as we are away from it, the performance generally drops. It is therefore difficult to imagine breaking new records in these conditions.

Grilled lawns, endangered sailing clubs …

The WWF also stresses that the increase in average temperatures, associated with increasingly frequent heat waves, will weaken many of our country’s sports facilities, starting with gymnasiums. The park is in fact aging – around half of the French collective sporting practice halls were put into service before 1987 – and the halls were not always built with materials guaranteeing good insulation and adapted to high temperatures. which will make many activities difficult to do.

Lawns will also be severely tested with the intensification of droughts. A rise in global temperatures of + 2 degrees could lead to 5 to 20 days of additional heat waves for almost half of the French stadiums.

Unsuitable gymnasiums, grilled lawns … The WWF also emphasizes in its report the reduction in snow cover in the mountains, and the erosion of the coastline, which endangers the sites of nautical activities. In a + 2 degree world, one in seven sailing clubs located on the coast would be threatened by the rise in sea level, or around 80 clubs, more than half of which are located on the Mediterranean. In a + 4 degree scenario, the relocation of almost a quarter of the clubs located on the French coasts would potentially become unavoidable.

Ban sponsors harmful to the environment

To avoid disaster, WWF France is sending a series of recommendations to the world of sport which, she insists, must be more committed to the climate. The NGO calls in particular for all sports activities to be aligned with the objectives set out in the Paris Agreement.

Paris Climate Agreement, 5 years later: broken promises … and some glimmers of hope

Sports bodies – from the government to the French National Olympic and Sports Committee, including federations – must integrate environmental requirements into all aspects of sport, “Whether in the organization of sports events, the allocation of funding, construction specifications and support for the renovation of sports equipment or even in the evolution of sports regulations”.

The world of sport has levers of action, she insists. Federations can change behavior “By better including environmental education in the educational content of their educational programs”. As for major sports events and organizations, they can impose environmental requirements on their partners, suppliers and sponsors, and ban those who advocate products that are harmful to the environment.

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