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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Climate Change moving the goal posts for Aussie Rules

Climate change is already impacting Australia's homegrown game of football - Aussie Rules. This video features climate researcher Alliance Rance, who works with the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research (VCCCAR), interviewing her brother Alex Rance who plays with the Richmond Tigers.

Climate impacts are already being felt in more weather extremes affecting playing field surfaces and the need to change player training regimes, especially in the summer off season. Many of our sports and outdoor recreational activity are already being affected by changing weather extremes requiring behaviour adaptation.

The AFL Community is already adapting to changing conditions promoting Green Clubs, and encouraging local football clubs to become more sustainable through Green Clubs accreditation:

Football clubs need to both adapt to new conditions and become more sustainable. This does not just mean saving water, but also reducing energy use and the amount of waste sent to landfill.

With these new challenges come very exciting opportunities to save money; improve grounds and infrastructure; and show community leadership on an issue affecting us all.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd started the transition of the AFL on climate change in 2009 as shown in this conversation between Kevin Rudd and Chris Judd.

This evolution of Aussie Rules clubs going green and sustainable has been occurring for some time. In 2010 Andrew Demetriou identified the need for AFL to take up the issue of climate change and how it is affecting the sport.

Demetriou is also on the board of the climate Institute. He said in 2012 that meeting the climate challenge requires taking the costs and risks of carbon "into full account, embedding them into business, political and community decision-making".

"A price and limit on carbon is one important step," he says. "It makes big polluters accountable and consumers more aware of their consumption." he said.

The Green Clubs program was later established in 2010 with the support of the Federal Labor Government and the Federal Department of Climate Change under the ministerial direction of Senator Penny Wong.

Awareness was raised during 2010 when Carlton and melbourne teams contested a Green Game on World Environment Day, June 5.

Federal Climate Change Minister said at the time:
"The AFL is helping to inform football fans – from local community clubs to the MCG – about little things they can do every day to help tackle climate change. The Green Game will encourage fans to think about the environment when they go to watch a game. This could include turning their lights off when they leave for the footy, catching public transport to the game and recycling their rubbish. Fans will also be encouraged to make a positive pledge to change their behaviour. With the help of the AFL, we can make football a greener game."

Other sports are also increasingly being affected. Last summer (January 2014) we saw the Australian tennis open delayed due to extreme temperatures in an ongoing heatwave. Increasingly we need to adapt our sport and recreational pursuits to the changes in temperatures and extreme weather events.

We have all seen the cuts to funding of science research and climate change education on a federal level that started with the closure of the Climate Commission last year and abolition of carbon price in July 2014. The Victorian State Government has also wound back it's climate change policies and pulled the plug on its energy efficiency program.

The State Government funding for VCCCAR, which produced the video on AFL and climate change was also concluded in June 2014. At a time when we need to understand how best to adapt to a changing climate, the Liberal National Party Victorian State Government has stopped funding the research.


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