Since I joined the England and Wales Cricket Board as Sustainability Manager in 2021, the one thing that has struck me most is the amount of work and willingness by so many people across cricket to embark on a sustainability journey.
There are so many good projects being undertaken and there are so many people who want to understand how they can do more, whether that’s as simple as energy-saving measures at a local club or more complex discussions that we at the ECB are having with our suppliers about ways we can reduce emissions together.
Cricket is more susceptible to climate change than most other sports and, as we launch our new Environmental Sustainability Plan for Cricket, the most important thing we can do as a governing body is to support everyone within the game so that they feel able to achieve their sustainability ambitions.
That is, in essence, the core principle of the Environmental Sustainability Plan. Every action counts!
I would argue it is the most important thing we can do right now so that flooding, drought, pollution and extreme heat doesn’t stop play and future generations can enjoy cricket in the same way we do.
The good thing is we are making a running start – the ECB has invested £10million into sustainability over the last two decades, while the proactivity I have already witnessed across the game since joining has ensured there are some world-class sustainability projects in place – such as at Lord’s, The Kia Oval and Edgbaston, where they have deservedly won awards for what they are doing.
Our plan showcases many other examples of the good work happening across the game and within the ECB, and it is important to celebrate those. We want to build on that to supercharge the positive impact in this space.
It is our role to support all parts of the game – and every part of the game has differing resource and ability to deliver sustainability. As an example, we all know that recreational cricket relies heavily on volunteers and already many of them are working above 100%.
So that has been at the front of our minds as we have developed the ESP which not only builds on the considerable work already done, but also provides support for those who most need it and those who want to know how they can embark on their sustainability journey.
The £4million County Grants Fund – in which ‘Tackling Climate Change’ is one of the core pillars – has been supporting the recreational game to take actions and has seen clubs embark on solar projects, insulation and double glazing, new boilers, electric machinery, boreholes and efficient irrigation that are examples of investments for the long-term good of the game.
There is much, much more that we must also do, and the plan outlines how the ECB accepts our responsibility to make our own operations more environmentally sustainable.
We have already started doing that by taking stock of our own performance and have been measuring our own greenhouse gas emissions.
We have also been working with key suppliers on reviewing their sustainability improvement plans and understanding their impacts on our own sustainability outcomes.
And we have addressed much of the ‘low-hanging fruit’ like starting to transition our car fleet to ultra-low emissions vehicles and including environmental sustainability awareness as part of staff inductions for new starters.
There are several environmental priority areas but there are three that we have chosen to focus on as part of the ESP.
These are Tackling Climate Change, Managing Resources and Protecting and Enhancing the Natural environment. These all interact and support each other. But Tackling Climate Change is of course a top-focus area for us as that is what is impacting us most directly now.
Setting targets for the future is important to set a direction of travel not only in our planning but also to signal to all our stakeholders, including the wider community, what we need to achieve to keep our game going.
Our targets are in line with what science and the global community recognise as critical targets. These are the same as those set out by the UN Sports for Climate Action framework with the key target of halving emissions by 2030 being the critical goal.
We are proud that we are now a signatory of the Framework, but we know there’s plenty more work to do. In the next 12 months – as part of our commitment in signing it – we will develop a Carbon Reduction Plan setting out how we can achieve this goal.
At the time of writing this I believe we are the first cricket governing body to have signed up to the UN’s Sport for Climate Action Framework, and this is something to celebrate. I am aware that there are others across the global cricket community working on their own sustainability plans and we want to collaborate with them and encourage them to also join the community of signatories.
We are all on a journey here – the ECB still has lots of work to do as do others.
We know that signing up has the benefits of working with others across many sports and sharing resources and ideas in this space to reach our common goal of a more sustainable future for all of our sports.
And we know that by uniting the cricket network, our suppliers and our partners behind a joined-up plan will give us the best chance to work together more effectively to cut emissions and make cricket more sustainable.
We owe that to the next generation of cricket fans and players so that they can enjoy the game in the same way we do now.
To find out more about how the ECB can support your clubs, or to read about some of the initiatives being undertaken across cricket please visit the ECB's Sustainability page, by clicking on this link.