CO2 Emissions NHL climate change

Published on July 23rd, 2014 | by Tina Casey


NHL To Climate Change Deniers: We Need Winter Weather!

July 23rd, 2014 by  

The National Hockey League took on climate change deniers and set a new high bar for all the other pro sports leagues in the US, in the form of its newly issued 2014 NHL Sustainability Report. According to NHL, that makes NHL the first A-list pro sports league to issue a Sustainability Report.

On that score, NHL is really sticking its neck out there so to speak. From golf to motorsports, other major US pro sports leagues have not been slacking when it comes to climate action. Also, NHL is not the only major sports league to join the Green Sports Alliance. On the other hand, there are only seven leagues in all in the Green Sports Alliance including lacrosse and tennis so maybe NHL has something there…

NHL climate change

“He shoots…” by Kenny Louie.

NHL Sustainability Report Takes On Climate Change Deniers

NHL released the 2014 NHL Sustainability Report earlier this week. To grasp the full scope of the league’s sustainability efforts and achievements you should really take a look at the whole thing, but for those of you on the go NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s introduction to the report sums it up in four words:

…we need winter weather.

Bettmann also lays out the NHL’s bottom line perspective for taking on climate change denial:

Our sport can trace its roots to frozen freshwater ponds, to cold climates. Major environmental challenges, such as climate change and freshwater scarcity, affect opportunities for hockey players of all ages to learn and play the game outdoors.

…We believe that this effort is not only the right thing to do for the environment, but is also a core strategy for the long-term success of our League. We have a vested interest in this cause. As a business, we rely on freshwater to make our ice, on energy to fuel our operations and on healthy communities for our athletes, employees and fans to live, work and play.

The Climate Change Denial Deke Fail

Over the past year or so the climate change denial pitch has pivoted. Initially a flat-out denial that there is overwhelming evidence of a global warming trend, the argument has shifted to at least some level of acceptance that the infamous “hockey stick graph” represents a real trend, while continuing to deny that human-caused pollution (aka greenhouse gas emissions) is the driving force behind that trend.

NHL certainly hasn’t fallen for that gag. Back in 2010, the league developed a broad sustainability initiative called NHL Green™  in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council, to advance its goals under one interconnected umbrella. You guessed it, reducing human-caused greenhouse gas emissions is a major thrust behind NHL Green and the Sustainability Report.

The 2014 NHL Sustainability Report

NRDC’s Dr. Allen Hershkowitz also contributes an introduction, in which he makes it clear that measuring, tracking, and abating greenhouse gas emissions at 30 NHL arenas is the driving force behind the report:

The reporting protocols used by the NHL for greenhouse gas emissions and other impacts have the highest integrity, following as they do the guidelines established by the Global Reporting Initiative and the World Resources Institute, arguably the most intelligently crafted and transparent greenhouse gas reporting guidelines ever developed.

In that context it’s also worth noting that the NHL was the first major pro sports league to join the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. NHL’s summary statement for that initiative also emphasizes greenhouse gas initiatives:

The NHL procures enough renewable energy certificates (RECs) to mitigate the environmental impact of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, as well as the electricity use at its New York City headquarters, pushing its percentage of green power use well over 100 percent.

The 2014 Sustainability Report and NHL Green also both go well beyond the hockey arena to tackle supply chain issues that also impact greenhouse gas emissions. That includes waste management as well as procurement.

NHL Teams And Climate Change

That figure of 100 percent green power applies to NHL-centered operations, so don’t start cheering for your home town team just yet.


However, based on some of the activity we’ve been tracking over the past several years, some of you NHL Green fans have lots to cheer about.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, for one, celebrated the opening of their new LEED Gold hockey stadium in 2010. In 2011 they followed up with a recycling campaign to coordinate with citywide sustainability efforts.

You can also look to some of your local stars for an aggressive stance on climate change denial. Despite currently playing for an NHL franchise based in the “oil capital of Canada,” Andrew Ference (aka @Ferknuckle) of the Edmunton Oilers is one standout example.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • They should also play the whole hockey season *in the winter*.

  • Doug Cutler

    Sure go ahead, Blame Canada!

    Hey Michael, good old hockey playing Canadian boy here – 2nd string Jr. B back in the day. Yah, this is a real head scratcher even up here in the Great not-so-White-anymore North. I follow green tech and climate change pretty closely – along with a little olympic hockey – and this just seemed to come out of nowhere. My guess is that NHL president Gary Bettman has been hanging out with fellow New Yorker and sometime cleantech friendly Michael Bloomberg.

    As for Mr. Harper, he came to power with less than 40% of popular vote because the opposition is divided in some crazy ways up here. Rest assured he’s not very popular in parts of the country, especially the east.

    Welcome as it is, this NHL sustainability announcement will still befuddle many Canadian hockey fans who have little clue or care about such matters. Nevertheless it may still have an incremental effect. Irony is Mr. Harper is a huge hockey fan and even wrote and published a book on early hockey history after coming to office. Harper pays lip service to AGW but in all other ways treats it as an obstacle to oil patch profitability. Will we see an up updated version of his hockey history tome accounting for this historic step by the NHL – first major league sports league to back global warming action? Don’t count on it.

    Oh yes, Koch brothers are heavily invested in Canadian oilsands, Once EVs begin to impact the market in a big way oilsands as a high cost extraction source will be one of the first things to fall. But we’re still a few years away from that yet. Get an electric car as soon as possible.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Get an electric car as soon as possible.

      That needs to start echoing around the web…

      Get an electric car as soon as possible.

      Get an electric car as soon as possible.

      Get an electric car as soon as possible.

      Get an electric car as soon as possible.

      • 0.3E9m/s

        Bike to work.

        • If you can – that works, too!

          • 0.3E9m/s

            Half the working US population works within bicycle commute distance of home. The health benefits outweigh the traffic risks. It’s impossible in some US cities (e.g. Atlanta) but it’s feasible in most.

  • Wait a minute here. Canadians are OK with stripmining and extracting tar sands. A fossil fuel reserve 5 times the size of all of US current proved reserves. A fossil fuel exploitation that is doing local harm to Alberta. A fossil fuel source that when spilled both settles to the bottom rivers and rises to the the top, i.e. Michigan Enbridge pipeline spill. A fossil fuel source, due to its higher percentage of heavy hydrocarbons is generating mountains of petcoke in Chicagoland refineries. A fossil fuel source heavily invested in by the Kochs. A fossil fuel source that will accelerate climate change and the inevitable impacts.

    That doesn’t bother Canadians.

    Climate change futzing with hockey, now that’s a national emergency. What a bunch of hosers, eh!

    • djr417

      Canadians are ok with stripmining and the devastation of the tar sands? I hope thats just a poor attempt at sarcasm. Just because our current government has allowed it to happen, doesnt mean all, or even a majority of its citizens is ok with it. Or are we then correct to assume that all Americans were behind the war on Iraq, mountain top blasting/mining etc. Considering its the US demand and dollars thats corrupted the powers that be to allow this environmental disaster to happen, there is plenty of blame to go around.
      btw- there is no ‘u’ in Edmonton.

      • I don’t see a reference to Edmonton in my comment. It’s hard to apologize to someone named djr417. Is that Scottish?

        • djr417

          Edmonton was misspelled in the original story. edited now for disqus handle is just that, a handle/abbreviation Ive used for years, it should have no bearing on whether or not I deserve an apology, nor should my heritage, which I did hint at as being Canadian.

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