Sport 2050: a BBC’s project on climate change

by Chiara Aruffo

The BBC launched the Sport 2050 project, which envisages what sport will be like in the face of climate change.

Sport 2050 – Future news, from a warmer world logo (Credits: BBC)

The BBC’s Sport 2050 – Future News, from a warmer world project is based on a similar idea to our Sportopolis project: raise awareness on climate change by talking about sport. Like us, they chose sport because it is universal and has the potential to engage with people who would not be otherwise interested in the topic.

The concept is simple: choose a reference year, imagine the climate at that point in time and how sport will be like as a result. The year 2050 was selected because it is close enough to be imagined but also because predictions tend to be less reliable as the time distance increases. The BBC also points out that the envisaged future is not based upon a specific scenario. That said, the project doesn’t want to present absolute truths, but it proposes the challenges sport will be likely to face and some possible solutions (again, not necessarily the best solutions).

Future News, from a warmer world

Future News, from a warmer world is the subtitle of the Sport 2050 project. Few stories have already been published and on one side they will make people smile, from the other side they will make them think. For example, a story imagines the 2050 World Football Cup in China, where matches are played only at night to avoid the heat, players are connected to biometric sensors that determine their substitutions, and fans are admitted only if they use eco-responsible vehicles (no planes allowed, of course). Another story is about winter sports that – for obvious reasons – are among those most affected by a possible rise in global temperatures. In the imaginary future of 2050, many events will be cancelled, and ski resorts will be forced to close, with negative repercussions for both sport and the local economy. Football and winter sports are just two examples, many more will follow in the coming weeks. To get an idea, just watch the video that imagines the headlines of the sports news.


Who is involved in the Sport 2050 project?

The BBC’s expert panel for the project consists of academics and industry representatives:

  • David Goldblatt: academic and journalist, chairs the Board of Trustees of Football For Future, a body concerned with climate change and sustainability in English football.
  • Madeleine Orr: Researcher at the University of British Columbia and Assistant Professor in Sport Management at SUNY Cortland. She is the founder of the Sport Ecology Group, an international consortium of academics researching climate and sport.
  • Kate Sambrook: PhD student at the University of Leeds, author of Hit for Six, a report on climate change and cricket.
  • Russell Seymour: founder of the British Association for Sustainable Sport and advisory board member of the Sport Ecology Group. He won the London 2012 Sustainability Ambassadors for his contribution to the sustainability of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • Nick Watanabe: associate professor of Big data and analytics in the Department of Sport and Entertainment Management at the University of South Carolina, where he studies the relationship between sport and the environment.
  • The Met Office led by Dr Fai Fung.

Cover picture: BBC

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