Ultra-low carbon sporting events kicked off the summer season. The Tour de France, Wimbledon, and the UEFA European Football Championship have all featured ambitious green commitments in tandem with leading economies’ Net Zero targets.

Tadej Pogačar rode into first place for the second year in a row, but low carbon was the big winner in 2021’s Tour de France as organisers rallied to implement unprecedented sustainability measures.

For this year’s gruelling competition, 100% of non-medical plastic waste for promotional items was eliminated, plastic cups were replaced by reusable glasses, and coffee cups were made from recycled materials. The organisers’ backup vehicles were also all either hybrid or fully electric.

Michael Woods, one of the professional cyclists who competed in this year’s Tour de France, reflected on the environmental responsibilities of athletes and sports organisers:

“We’re the tip of the spear in the world tour and we should be the example for everybody. Cycling is, as an activity, one of the most carbon-neutral things you can do.”

The climate cost of the European Cup was always going to be a challenge, with the 2020 competition being staged across 11 separate countries this year. But the long-awaited competition, delayed because of Covid, saw organisers, UEFA, pledge “the most environmentally friendly championship to date”.

In a major commitment to reduce the tournament carbon footprint, UEFA says it will offset the “hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon that will be produced” by investing in renewable energy projects and plant 50,000 trees in each of the Euro 2020 host countries.

AELTC, which organises Wimbledon, has announced a 2030 Net Zero carbon emissions reduction goal alongside commitments to operate on 100% renewable electricity, increase biodiversity and continue zero-waste to landfill commitments. The quintessential strawberries and cream were, this year, served in certified plastic-free card, to support its recycling plans.

Greater transparency for high profile sporting events and a promising trend towards green sportsmanship is to be seen as a welcome boost towards Net Zero 2050 targets.