A video produced by Hannah Mills and Melissa Wilson ahead of COP26 showcases  high-profile athletes asking world leaders to take action on  climate change.

Climate change is potentially a health, performance and career issue for athletes.

There are a number of supportive, athlete-led groups available to provide you with information about the movement.

“Now is your chance to deliver.”

A powerful message delivered by a team of 50 Olympians to world leaders on the eve of the COP26 climate summit, via the medium of video.

The statement was clear: against all the odds we, the athletes, managed to compete at Tokyo 2020 with distinction – now it’s your turn to take the action needed to reduce the negative impacts of climate change on our environment and communities.

Influential athletes

Hannah Mills and Melissa Wilson, the duo who devised and produced the video, represent a growing cohort of elite sportspeople who are increasingly using their voice and platform to generate awareness around climate change, and to accelerate climate action.

Hannah the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time and Team GB’s flagbearer at Tokyo 2020, is an IOC Sustainability Ambassador, while Melissa , a Team GB rower between 2016-2021, helped to coordinate a letter in summer 2020 – with the backing of 300 athletes – calling on the UK government to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic with a “green recovery”.

“We hope that because the video is spoken there will be additional urgency,” says Wilson. “There’s a different impact when you can see athletes saying ‘this is absolutely necessary.’”

The video is hosted on a webpage, Athletes of the World, in which you can opt-in to receive information on climate-related campaigns in the future.

There’s a different impact when you can see athletes saying ‘this is absolutely necessary.

Melissa Wilson

Supportive environment

While climate change can be perceived as a complex topic , simple actions like opting into a newsletter or lending your voice to a campaign with other athletes could be a low-barrier, supportive environment to take the first step.

If you’d like to go further, there are habits you could tweak – particularly around diet, transport, and the products you buy – that would make a positive difference.

There are athlete climate initiatives popping up all over the world. In Australia, former rugby union player David Pocock established ‘The Cool Down’ campaign, encouraging athletes to join a movement calling on national policymakers to commit to cutting carbon emissions “by at least half” by 2030, before becoming net zero by 2050.

Australia has seen some of its most high-profile sporting events impacted by extreme heat, wildfires and poor air quality in recent years. In almost every part of the world, sporting competitions are being affected and athletes are being taken ill because of environmental conditions.

Discover more

But it’s not all doom and gloom; in fact, there’s never been a better time to learn about climate change, and to potentially make a few simple choices that could go someway to safeguarding your career and the planet.

And if you want to learn more about your peers participating in the climate conversation, and explore your own possibilities for getting involved, there is a growing number of supportive organisations that could be a good place to start.

Groups such as EcoAthletes, a nonprofit set up to educate athletes on climate science and communication, and Champions for Earth, Players for the Planet, and We Play Green, founded by ex-rower Dave Hampton, former MLB baseball player Chris Dickerson, and Norwegian footballer Morten Thorsby respectively, are well-placed to provide you with the information you may be looking for.

Check out the different athlete climate movements and find out more about Hannah’s and Melissa’s campaign at Athletes of the World.