The Women’s World Cup Climate Change Initiatives
The FIFA Women’s World Cup is an international association soccer competition. The Women’s World Cup dates back to 1970, with its first tournament in Italy and has since been held every four years. The 2023 Women’s World Cup is taking place in Australia and New Zealand and is the first Women’s World Cup to be held in the Southern Hemisphere and the first to be hosted by two countries. But that’s not all that is making the headlines with this year’s Women’s World Cup.
This year, forty-four Women’s World Cup players have committed to taking climate action over the flights they must take to get to Australia and New Zealand. Led by Common Goal and Football For Future, the World Cup climate change initiative is the biggest player-led climate action in soccer history.
Common Goal is a pledged-based charitable movement working towards a more sustainable and equitable future for all. They have created a global community of high-impact organizations that use football to support the well-being of the planet and the societies that occupy it. One of their environmental efforts is a partnership with Adidas, whereby they are committed to educating players about environmental sustainability and sports. The World Cup climate change initiative provides sustainable management processes to reduce or end the use of plastic and turn recycled materials into sports infrastructure.
Football for Future is a non-profit organization building an environmentally sustainable culture in soccer. The Women’s World Cup climate change initiative supports players committed to reducing their environmental impact. Players, in turn, are supporting a combination of climate resilience and carbon offsetting, and adaptation initiatives. This movement relies on a rigorous and scientific methodology to calculate the environmental impact of the players’ travel to and from the World Cup.
The World Cup climate change initiative players are creating a positive environmental legacy, including donating to climate-resilience initiatives. Some initiatives they have chosen are WWF Australia’s Koalas Forever, WWF New Zealand’s Pauanui Dune Protection and DanChurchAid’s Uganda Tree Planting. They are also using their platforms to accelerate the climate conversation in soccer.
Another key climate change initiative is to inspire governing bodies to make carbon a key criterion in the bidding process for tournaments. This comes after the announcement that the 2026 Men’s World Cup is predicted to be the most carbon-intensive event in the history of the FIFA World Cup, with travel representing 85% of total emissions.
This is because the tournament will be hosted by three countries: Canada, Mexico, and the United States. This means that there will be a lot of travel between the three countries and within each country.
The Carbon Trust, a British sustainability consultancy, estimated that the 2026 World Cup could generate 5.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. This is more than double the emissions of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and the majority of these emissions will come from travel. The Carbon Trust estimates that 4.8 million tonnes of emissions will come from air travel and 0.7 million tonnes from road travel. The World Cup climate change environmental initiative intends to shed light on this inconvenient truth in hopes that it will get better in future World Cup events.
The World Cup climate change environmental initiative will hopefully bring awareness to encourage the 2030 World Cup host selection to make sustainable and environmental choices. In addition to travel, there is pressure to avoid building new infrastructure where possible. And if they need to build new infrastructure, there should be efforts to use low-carbon techniques and retrofit existing structures with sustainable solutions.
The players hope their efforts will have a lasting impact on the World Cup and younger people. They also hope their efforts in the 2023 games will bring awareness to the problem around travel and encourage more people to think of sustainable alternatives.