Woodside. BHP. Santos. What do these companies have in common?
They're all fossil fuel companies. And they all sponsor the sports that are currently under threat by climate change.
When I was a kid, summer meant sport. My Dad would watch the tennis and cricket.
In his last year alive, there weren't many things left for him, but he could still watch TV. But he couldn't watch the Australian Open. It was cancelled when a player collapsed in the heat. Extreme heat now regularly interrupts the tennis.
I prefer doing outdoor activities to watching sport. I've really enjoyed some of the big community events, like the Sydney to Gong and Rotary Five Peaks rides and the Broulee Breakers swims.
But floods, storms, heat and fire have threatened or cancelled each of those events in recent years.
Climate change has affected all of our major events. In 2018, heat jeopardised the Santos Tour Down Under (yes, you read that name right). In 2019, the Big Bash League had to cancel a Canberra match mid-play due to bushfire smoke. Cancelling because of the climate-related extreme weather is now common.
And yet many of these sports and events are sponsored by the same companies that are making climate change worse. We can't keep letting fossil fuel companies get away with it. It's time to call time on the greenwash.
Fossil fuel sports sponsorship isn't just ironic. It's dangerous. Australia reveres our sports stars. We want to be them. We tell our kids to be like them. What message are we sending when we cover their sportsgrounds and their bodies with climate-wrecking corporate logos?
A growing movement is calling for change. The Climate Council has launched a Fossil Fuel Free Sponsorship Code as part of a national campaign to get fossil fuel sponsorship out of our events. Fifteen Australian councils have signed up to a national call for a Fossil Ad Ban. Climate activists all over the country are speaking out. Fans are crying out for change. Athletes in cricket, AFL and netball have made headlines protesting their team's fossil fuel sponsorship.
The ACT can join this movement too, but we could do even more. We could be the first jurisdiction to ban fossil fuel ads from our professional sports and venues.
Imagine the AFLW and AFL players running out with the BHP and Woodside logos blacked out on their jerseys. Imagine the conversations that would spark.
This is not new ground. We've made regulations like this before. Our venues and sports teams don't run cigarette ads. That would be outrageous! We banned it decades ago.
Let's recognise this latest danger. Just like the tobacco lobby, fossil fuel corporations are buying social licence for lethal products. But we don't have to let them do this.
The ACT is the perfect place to begin the legislative ban. We are climate leaders already. We have 100 per cent renewable electricity. We're phasing out fossil fuel gas and phasing in EVs. We've changed our building standards and planning laws to deal with increasing heat.
We've committed to Australia's first ever right to a healthy environment. Let's take the next step.
I'm working on draft legislation that targets fossil fuel ads at key ACT sporting venues. It covers iconic places like the AIS, the Canberra Tennis Centre, Canberra Stadium, Manuka Oval and Narrabundah Ballpark.
I'm working with the Climate Council, FrontRunners, the climate movement, local sports groups and the community to get the details right. Next year, I plan to introduce the bill and help the ACT ban fossil fuel ads from our sports.
Regulation is part of a conversation and there are many people this affects and so many with great ideas. Please get involved! I'd love to hear from you - contact me at CLAY@parliament.act.gov.au.
Together, we could have a sporting future that is fossil-fuel free.
- Jo Clay is a Greens MLA for Ginninderra.