Solar panel campaign as global warming threatens gambling

It’s a sport known for its iconic baggy green, but now Australia’s top cricketers are determined to make cricket even greener as the impacts of climate change threaten the game’s future.

Australian men’s cricket captain Pat Cummins has launched a campaign for cricket clubs across the country to install solar panels to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions, saying it’s time the sport did its part to tackle climate change.

Cummins on Thursday announced the creation of Cricket for Climate and its Solar Clubs solar panel project. Cricket for Climate will start with an effort to install solar power in 4,000 local clubs. The first to receive solar panels is Cummins’ former junior home ground, Penrith Cricket Club, followed by more than a dozen top player-linked clubs next month.

The program is backed by some of the biggest names in Australian cricket, including Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Marnus Labuschagne, Rachael Haynes and Alyssa Healy, among others.

“Few sports are more at risk from global warming and it is time for clubs and cricketers at all levels to step up and be part of the solution,” Cummins said.

Cricket feels the heat

The impact of climate change on cricket is not something you often hear about, but the very real consequences have been a growing concern among organisers, players and the wider climate change community.

In 2018, a Game Changer Report published by the Climate Coalition, noted that “of all major grassroots sports, cricket will be the hardest hit by climate change”.

Cricket, an outdoor summer sport, is particularly vulnerable to climate change for several reasons. It is a game where players are dressed in long-sleeved shirts, pants, pads, and a helmet. Test matches – the longest and most valuable format in sport – last the equivalent of a working week. Many cricketing countries are located in already hot and increasingly hot areas.

Not only is health a major concern as players and spectators are subjected to oppressive heat, particularly in the United Arab Emirates and the subcontinent, but drought and flooding affect pitches, playing conditions and par consequent player performance.

According to Hit For Six, a 2019 report by the British Association for Sustainable Sport (BASIS), scientific studies have shown the fingerprints of climate change on the heat wave which in 2017/2018 impacted youth matches in Australia, Storm Desmond in 2015-16 which took away 1 Appleby and Eden Cricket Club in Cumbria, England and the drought that plagued Cape Town during the 2017/2018 Indian cricket tour of South Africa.

And science says the impacts will get significantly worse.

Australian cricket legend Shane Warne has previously expressed concern.

“In the past, it has sometimes been difficult to know who to believe, but I think we all have to admit now that climate change is a huge problem,” said the former leader.

“The game has to have a plan, a strategy for how we fit into it. It wasn’t something I had really talked about with ex-cricketers until this year at Lord’s. really blown away.”

Cummins has also personally felt the effects of climate change. He was on the pitch in 2018 when England captain Joe Root suffered the crippling effects of dehydration and ended up in hospital during a test from the ashes in record-breaking heat in Sydney.

“And a few years ago the smoke from the bushfires made it hard to breathe while bowling, you couldn’t see the ball from the sideline,” Cummins said.

“We’ve also experienced it overseas – in Bangladesh, India – where the air quality can be bad, but also unbelievable temperatures that literally made playing impossible.

“Even preparing a wicket requires a really stable climate, so we’re right in the thick of it.”

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Solar Club a win-win for Cricket Australia

Installing solar panels on 4,000 local clubs will have a significant positive impact on the environment, reducing carbon emissions from dirty fossil fuels that would otherwise be used to power the clubs.

However, helping the environment is not the only reason Cricket for Climate is promoting the installation of solar panels in clubs. It’s also a smart financial move that can save clubs thousands of dollars each year in energy costs that can be reinvested in community cricket.

Rachael Haynes, Australia’s women’s vice-captain, said the Solar Clubs program is a win-win as it would reduce clubs’ electricity bills and greenhouse gas emissions and generate savings that could be spent on resources and player development.

“Alyssa Healy and I will be supporting Sydney Cricket Club with the installation of solar systems at Drummoyne Oval,” she said.

“We are both still involved in the club. It’s something that I’m sure we can highlight years from now as an initiative that has made a real difference.

Cummins hopes other sporting codes will sit up, take notice, and think about what they can do.

“We have to do our part to make sure that we try to limit temperature increases as much as possible, otherwise in the future cricket could be much more difficult to play,” he said.

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Teresa H. Sadler