A British professional football club has received a prestigious UN certification and become the world’s first carbon-neutral football club.
Forest Green Rovers have signed up for a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) initiative called Climate Neutral Now for the 2018-2019 season. The Gloucestershire-based club play in England’s fourth division League Two and have already attracted global attention for their green credentials, which include being run entirely on renewable energy and playing on an organic pitch which is cut by a solar-powered robot lawnmower. In 2017, the club opted to serve only vegan food at games citing sporting and environmental reasons, for which it received the vegan trademark from the Vegan Society.
Forest Green Rover won promotion to the Football League for the first-time in their 129 year history last year. The club are seeking to build on this success and have submitted plans for a new stadium fittingly titled Eco Park, which the club say will be the greenest in the world.
The club’s chairman, the charismatic self-described hippie and green businessman Dale Vince, is hoping that by creating a green football club sustainable thinking and technology will be brought to a new and passionate audience. So far it seems to be working, illustrated by the fact some fans have become vegetarians since the club adopted an all-vegan matchday menu.
By bringing sustainability and veganism to lower-league football, a reactionary realm known for celebrating traditional ideas of masculinity, are Forest Green Rovers epitomising a wider cultural shift? Given that sports clubs are often rooted in communities, what role can they play in spreading passion for green causes and bringing sustainability to a new audience?