Tomorrow, a sport without spectators?

For climatologist Valérie Masson-Delmotte, guest of the Demain le Sport festival on Thursday, climate change could impose radical changes on the world of sport.

“What will sport look like in a world of zero consumption in 2050? How will we move, how will the athletes train? » The question posed on Thursday to the public gathered on the first floor of the Maison de la radio comes from a great figure in climate research, Valérie Masson-Delmotte. Invited to the Demain le Sport festival, the paleoclimatologist painted this Thursday a worrying panorama of the possible consequences of climate change in sport, while the forecasts of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), draw a perspective of 1.5 degrees of global warming in the next twenty years.

“For sport as for other sectors of activity, there are limits to adaptability. Less snow, less glaciers, less water in the rivers in summer, requires transformative practices to prepare. And some sports practices are more at risk than others. The duration of the snow cover, for example, affects certain competitions. We also know that the sites equipped for the previous Olympic Games will no longer be viable in twenty years’ time.” estimates Valérie Masson-Delmotte, chair of one of the IPCC’s working groups.

“Sport has a catalytic role to play”

It could be imagined that high-level sport, whose field is by definition exceptional, escapes certain limitations of the energy sobriety plan drawn up by the government (40% energy reduction in 2050). But for Valérie Masson-Delmotte, sport, on the contrary, aims to be an engine in the transformation of our development model: “ Sport plays with collective emotions. It has a catalytic role to play. It should not be in a bubble, where it would not participate in the profound transformations that will affect the entire society. »

The scientist also confided that several athletes involved in environmental issues had told her about the “discomfort”linked to the distortion between the way of life imposed by high-level sport and their desire to participate in the fight against global warming: “The sports calendar requires high-level athletes to travel a lot, change competition and training venues and therefore have a very high carbon footprint. Some have told me that it was a source of deep concern for them. »

A problem related to transportation.

One of the priorities to reduce the carbon footprint of sport is to develop tools to measure the impact of competitions on the climate, as well as the effectiveness of sobriety measures. For Valérie Masson-Delmotte, it would be desirable to create an authority to regulate the environmental policy of sports institutions (leagues, federations, etc.): “There is a need for a structured space over time, in order to propose best practices. But also to check that the commitments made are effectively fulfilled. »

One of the great obstacles that the world of sport will have to face is related to the movement of spectators. 80% of sport’s carbon emissions are linked to transport. An impact derived mainly from the movements of the public. To drastically reduce CO2 emissions from sports competitions, Valérie Masson-Delmotte imagines a bold solution: “Can’t we imagine regional hubs where fans gather to see events happening elsewhere? »

The establishment of such a system seems incompatible with the nature of the sports spectacle. But the simple fact that we imagine that spectators could stay at home to follow future Olympic Games shows the magnitude of the environmental challenges facing the world of sport.

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