COVID shut down the world last spring—bringing with it a rapid halt to worldwide events, concerts, and sporting events. A much less bustling world came a record-breaking decline in emissions.
A new study in Environmental Science & Technology investigated climate solutions in professional sport based travel, examining how different leagues across North America contributed to greenhouse gas emissions. Estimated emissions for 2018 were about 121,841 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is over 20 percent higher than emissions in 2020—largely due to frequent flights. Professional teams often use private jets and other non-commercial forms of transit, so the emissions per person is often higher than the average person who isn’t a professional athlete.
“If the scheduling changes implemented in 2020 were maintained in future years, air travel emissions reductions of 22 percent each year could be expected. Additional reductions in air travel emissions could also be achieved by using more fuel-efficient aircraft and shortened regular seasons,” the authors write in the study.