Sunday, August 4, 2019

One English Football Club Fights Climate Change

From League Two to UN ambassadors – one English football club based in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire is leading the world's climate change fight. 

Fifty-seven-year-old Dale Vince (left), who took over Forest Green Rovers in 2010, has transformed it into the world’s only UN-recognized carbon neutral sports club. 

Here, the pitch is organic, the kits are bamboo, and the stands have solar panels on top. Wild planting borders the ground and a wind turbine stands in one corner. Ticket prices include a carbon-offsetting levy, while even the soap in the stadium toilets is made with grass cuttings from the playing field. 

Most notably of all, perhaps, fans wanting a half-time pie or burger are offered vegan options only. The stadium is meat- and dairy-free, a state of affairs that has resulted in one of English football’s more surreal chants. “Where”, sing away supporters, “have your hot dogs gone?” 

Today, nine years on, the club is financially stable, established in League Two following promotion in 2017, and is currently applying to build a new stadium – a sweepingly beautiful design by Zaha Hadid, made all from wood and surrounded (but of course) by trees. 

Artist’s impression of the proposed new stadium. Zaha Hadid Architects 

The eco-identity, meanwhile, has created an overseas fan base among supporters who share the philosophy. This season’s new kit has sold in 16 different countries – unheard of for a club at this level. Last season, media from Russia, Japan, the US and Germany were all in the press box at some point. 

So ambitious, indeed, that the UN has now asked the club to lead its new Sport For Climate Action initiative, an international project which will see professional and amateur clubs across the world encouraged – and offered practical help – to reduce their carbon footprint. Many of the ideas shared will be taken directly from Green Devils. 

Yesterday, they had a game against Oldham Athletic – and which they won 1-0. 

Also, yesterday, in the Scottish Premiership, Celtic crushed St Johnstone 7-0 in a spectacular start to their bid to make it nine titles in a row. Their goals came from Mikey Johnston (9), Ryan Christie (26, 30, 67), Olivier Ntcham (72), Odsonne Edouard (80), and Leigh Griffiths (86). 

Celtic sit top of the table on day one itself and is a clear sign of intent from Neil Lennon's side.

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