With the U.S. set to take on Ghana in their first World Cup match later today, soccer fans at home remain optimistic for a respectable result despite the team’s long odds. Hopefully, our showing on the field will surpass our performance in Grist’s “World Cup of Climate Change,” where the U.S. didn’t make it out of group play. The site looked at per capita GDP (gross domestic product) relative to CO2 emissions per capita for each World Cup country.  Although a crude measure, it gives a sense of how each of the 32 World Cup countries stacks up with respect to sustainability.

For the U.S., the results aren’t good. Among the 32 countries, we rank in the bottom third, sandwiched between Croatia and Cameroon and well behind Germany, Ghana, and Portugal from the Group of Death. What’s worse, with 17.6 metric tons of CO2 emissions per capita, U.S. residents have the largest carbon footprint among all World Cup countries.

While sports can be an escape for lots of folks, figures like these are hard to ignore. And if you’re a sports fan and concerned about climate change, you’ve probably thought about what the professional sports leagues are doing to lighten their impact. Given their audience and scale of operations, they have significant potential to create change. Major League Soccer, along with NBA, WNBA, MLB, NFL, and NHL, is a member of the Green Sports Alliance, a nonprofit organization committed to helping sports teams and venues improve their environmental performance. The annual Green Sports Alliance Summit will take place in July shortly after the World Cup ends.

Boston’s teams have stepped up to the plate and are leading the way in sustainability. Former Bruin’s defenseman, Andrew Ference, was the face of a Boston recycling campaign (and a regular Boston biker!).


The Boston Red Sox have also been a partner of Greenovate Boston, helping us launch last year with our advertising campaign.


For years, they’ve also hosted carbon neutral games on Earth Day. This year, not only did they have EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and U.S. Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz throw out the first pitch, they also helped us get the word out by playing this great video over the jumbotron:

Boston vs. New York: The Climate Game from City of Boston on Vimeo.

The teams can’t do it alone. Just like on the field, they need your support and passion to drive them towards excellence! What can Boston’s professional sports teams do to support sustainability and change the score on climate change before the next World Cup in 2018?

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