The very important COP26 Climate Change Conference is going on in Glasgow, and it gives us a good opportunity to look at what the IOF is doing to improve our carbon footprint and sustainability.
The IOF Environment and Sustainability Commission (ESC) and the IOF administration discussed at the beginning of 2019 a plan to reduce carbon emissions in IOF work. In April 2019, the IOF joined the UNFCCC Sports for Climate Action Framework and have recently updated our commitment via to the “Race to Zero” initiative with the initial target of reducing our carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.
The initial focus of the carbon reduction plan has been the IOF organisation itself, i.e. the Council, Office and Commissions, in total about 120 people working with the various elements of IOF activity. An initial baseline measurement was made by the ESC for 2019 and this sets the future targets. As can be expected, travel makes up the major portion of our climate impact, in fact in the baseline measurement it accounts for 99% of the total. This gives a clear focus as to where we can make the biggest emissions savings and greatest impact on our climate footprint.
Obviously, 2020 was a very special year with the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning that most major events and in-person meetings were cancelled. And the impact of the pandemic can be seen in the carbon data as we were able to reduce emissions by 87% over 2019. But more important was in fact the experience gained and the change to new digital working methods. The operations of the IOF may not have been as visible through events and travel, but in fact meetings were held, decisions were made and the return to sport in 2021 was helped by working digitally. In many cases the change has been embraced with improved meeting efficiency and more frequent follow up.
As we look forward to the coming years, there will of course be a return to some travel and we need to make sure that the working method changes made remain in focus. Maybe we can keep our emissions below the target 50% of 2019 level already now.
The ESC has produced a brief report about the IOF carbon emissions work and results for 2020. Read it here