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NHL Emissions Report

01 June 2020

NHL Spin Sports Emissions Logo

The NHL is one of the most prominent sporting leagues across America and Canada, with 1,271 matches played in total throughout a full season - with 31 teams playing 82 games each - but is the amount of travelling done on a game-by-game basis having a traverse effect on the environment?

The NHL prides itself on its Green initiative, but what is the real effect on the environment of having 31 teams jetting around the country on a regular basis?

NHL Emissions Report, produced by SpinSports, looks at which sides had the furthest to travel in 2019 and what damage they did to the environment in terms of their CO2 emissions and what that energy equates to in other costs to determine which side is causing the most damage to the environment.

Spin Sports NHL Emissions infograph

The emissions that come from just one plane journey can be damaging to the environment but, by doing dozens of trips during the course of one calendar year, NHL professionals are shown to have a much greater impact on climate change by producing a carbon footprint well beyond that of the average person.

Commenting on the results of the study, Andrew Welfle from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester told the NHL Emissions Report: “The carbon footprint of all major sports teams and its players is often several magnitudes higher than that of other people. In the majority of cases the majority of blame cannot justifiably be focused on specific teams and players – they have to travel to attend fixtures and keep to schedule.

“It is the wider sports organisations that need to rethink the design of leagues and schedules, as this will be the only way to reduce the emissions of sports from an aviation perspective.

“At the minute sports teams do get away with the amount of travel they do both nationally and internationally. However with climate change and emissions rapidly rising up the agenda and with many countries developing tough emission reduction targets, the time rapidly coming when sport has to do its bit.

“Sport is still coming to terms with what needs to be done and have not yet grasped that they may need to make some hard decisions to decarbonise once all the ‘low hanging’ actions have been achieved.”

On the NHL’s Green Initiative that has already been set up to tackle with climate change, he added: It is commendable the NHL have set up the ‘NHL Green’ initiative, a large part of which is the tracking and monitoring of impacts – always the first and most important step when trying to mitigate environmental impacts. Although much of the  focus of this initiative is aimed at increasing the sustainability of ice rinks, which is a much easier problem to tackle compared to wider environmental impacts from travel and aviation.

“Like many organisations the NHL Green initiative also focuses on schemes to offset impacts and to support environmental programs. Again these activities are commendable, but there is a growing consensus that these activities only go so far and any emissions saved through these wider schemes fall short of benefit that would be gained through not generating the emissions from the NHL in the first place.”

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