At a time when the preservation of the environment has become a major concern, including for supporters, the NGO WWF France is interested in the impact of climate change on sports practice in France. In a report published on Tuesday July 6 entitled “Climate change: the world of sport at + 2 ° C and + 4 ° C”, the organization specializing in the protection of the environment and biodiversity, warns about the impact of this phenomenon on our physical activities. What will be the concrete consequences? Some answers with Arnaud Gauffier, program director at WWF France.
What is the purpose of this report?
Arnaud Gauffier : The theme of the environment in the world of sport is relatively absent. With this report, we want to alert public opinion, public authorities and sports federations: we want to show that climate change is not just about heat waves in Canada (in reference to the heat record recorded in Lytton), to the rise in sea level in Senegal, or the melting of snow which will deprive the wealthiest part of the French population of skiing. Climate change is something that will affect everyone and all sports on a daily basis.
What are the conclusions of this report?
Practices as simple and widespread as running will change enormously: in some places in France, and especially in the south, it will no longer be possible to run during the day, it will be so hot for example. You should know that above 32 ° C, sports practice is not recommended because it can be dangerous for health.
For this report, we imagined two scenarios: one during which global warming reaches + 2 ° C, and another with warming to + 4 ° C. According to forecasts by the IPCC (the intergovernmental group of experts on climate change), at + 2 ° C, a scenario that could occur by 2050, there will be 9 additional days during which the temperature will exceed 32 ° C and therefore during which the sport will be dangerous. AT + 4 ° C, which would be observable around 2090, these are 22 days less during which we can play sports.
Concretely, what to expect?
Playing rugby in the southwest is going to get tricky in the future. Making tackles requires playing on soft ground, not sand or dirt, and the grass will have a hard time growing in that part of the country because of the heat – and even though it does grow, it will have a hard time growing in that part of the country. would be subject to flooding in winter. The nerve center of this sport could migrate to the north of France. It will also affect half of the sports halls, those built in concrete and which are not adapted to withstand climatic shocks such as heat waves. These are just a few examples, but all sports are going to be impacted.
All of these consequences also raise questions of accessibility, with all the public health impacts that lack of exercise implies. Sport is a popular activity by nature: it costs little to run or play football, for example. But if tomorrow running or football become activities that can only be practiced in paid air-conditioned sports halls, then sport will immediately become less accessible to the most precarious classes.
Finally, it will have an impact on sports performance: in the world to come, we could no longer beat records in certain disciplines such as the marathon for example. With the hot weather, running one below the two hour mark will become much more complicated.
You set out a number of recommendations to limit the dangers. What are they ?
The players in sport must start now to adapt their sports practices, a subject that is currently quite absent. It is also important that they adopt an ambitious policy of ecological transition of sport around various themes such as food, waste management, transport. Some organizers of major events are making climate commitments such as Paris 2024, which aims to become the first major sporting event to offset more CO2 emissions than it emits. Creating tools for observing sport and the climate would also be a good way to assess the impact of physical activity on the environment.