OPINION

Opportunity to play summer sport will be hindered by climate change

Ben Brown during the 2021 AFL Grand Final. Picture: AAP
Ben Brown during the 2021 AFL Grand Final. Picture: AAP

It's an amazing feeling winning an AFL grand final, especially after falling behind in the game - to dig deep as a team and come out on top is hard to describe.

After sharing the exhilaration of victory with my teammates on the field, all I wanted was to celebrate with my family - my beautiful wife and two young daughters.

Being a good husband and father is what I'm most proud of, and having kids has really got me thinking about the future - I want them to grow up in a world that's safe for them to live in, with a healthy environment.

This is where I get worried. I look at the latest science on climate change, and how soon we need to cut our carbon pollution to stop it from worsening, and I feel like we're at risk of falling behind.

Australia is a high user and exporter of fossil fuels, like coal and gas. But we are living in the past, we need to speed up the transition to cheaper and cleaner renewable energy, like solar and wind.

As a Tasmanian, I'm proud that, after decades of grassroots public pressure, state governments have prioritised renewable energy and Tassie is regularly powered by 100 per cent renewables. The state government announced last week they will enshrine a net zero by 2030 target into law - never mind 2050. Now, we need more people around the country calling for the federal government to make better decisions for the future.

That's why I'm so excited to be joining AFL Players for Climate Action, an organisation started by my former North Melbourne teammates Jasper Pittard and Tom Campbell. We're all impacted by global warming in various ways, most notably through more frequent and severe extreme weather events, like bushfires and droughts.

In sport, extreme heat has seen tennis players pull out of matches at the Australian Open and matches delayed or postponed. In 2020, we saw a cricket test between Australia and New Zealand impacted by Black Summer bushfire smoke, and AFL clubs like mine forced to train indoors.

In 20 years it's predicted we could see 50 degree days during summer heatwaves. The risk these conditions pose on summer sports seems pretty real to me, and it's a heartbreaking to think about the opportunities future generations, including my kids, may miss out on as a result.

We may be falling behind the rest of the world here in Australia, but it's not too late to turn this around. This is our moment to pull together as a team, to dig deep and use our voices to call for more action to reduce carbon pollution and embrace the opportunities of a clean energy powered future.

  • Ben Brown won the 2021 AFL Grand Final with Melbourne.
This story Summer sports feel burn of climate change first appeared on The Canberra Times.