Reflecting on golf's drive to net zero

01 Dec 2023

This week and next, world leaders are gathering In Dubai to try to establish new agreements and frameworks to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees – an issue of huge significance and increasing urgency the whole of society.

Two years on from the introduction of the ‘Driving Net Zero’ initiative for golf and climate action at COP 26 in Glasgow, and with a growing number of new commitments, actions and updates it’s a good time to look back and ahead.

It’s essential we all play our part. For golf, as a global land and community based sport that impacts and is impacted by climate change, it is vital to be able to show clear commitment, action and results.  To address direct and indirect emissions, increase carbon storage and, as a high-profile sport with the reach and influence, to help raise awareness on scale.

During the 2021 COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, GEO Sustainable Golf Foundation hosted a special event in collaboration with EventScotland, to spotlight the issues and explore golf’s relationship with climate action.

‘Driving for Net Zero’ brought together leading experts from United Nations agencies and other climate action bodies with representatives and examples from across the sport of golf.

Since then, important milestones have been achieved including the development of custom carbon footprint solutions for golf facilities, golf tournaments, new golf developments, organisations and associations, and professional players.  These come as part of programming that also includes reduction plans and a credible mitigation.

Reflecting on the situation and status Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of GEO Sustainable Golf Foundation said: “The momentum in the world’s push towards net zero is accelerating, and hopefully this COP will realise a number of high-level government and institutional agreements, investment programmes and other collaborative frameworks across the public and private sectors. 

“However, in tandem it is vital that civic society bodies, and other voluntary initiatives also drive at pace.  This includes sports, events, media, tourism, manufacturers and suppliers and the small to medium sized business sector.  Golf is an influential and innovative meeting place for this voluntary action, and the fact it is a land manager as well makes its role in climate action and nature even more potent.  So golf’s leadership in climate action matters.

“Global commitments and frameworks are important, but practical action and results on the ground, amplified and inspired through sport are just as significant.

“Which is why it is so encouraging to see more grass roots clubs, more national and international associations, more tours and tournaments, more suppliers, more professional players and more media partners joining what needs to be our greatest comeback yet”. 

During this year’s COP event, a series of in-depth explorations of some of the key questions relating to golf and climate will be hosted on Sustainable.Golf, including: 

  • Can golf become a recognised leader in climate action – in sport and in communities around the world?
  • What would it take to achieve that?
  • What guidance and support is available, and how can people start or extend efforts?

With governments strengthening their regulations and incentives; the public becoming more engaged and expectant; and businesses and sectors of different all types taking up the baton, it is important for golf to accelerate and make more visible its drive to net zero. 

All the content we generate can be freely downloaded and shared, including this golf and climate action video.

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