Sport and community engagement as catalysts for climate action

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A teaser of our joint report with Bohemians Football Club titled ‘Levelling The Playing Field: Climate Action For All'.


Football and climate action, or more specifically, football and energy justice, are words that one would normally not be accustomed to seeing together in a sentence. This unlikely nexus is what we, at Friends of the Earth, would like to draw on through our joint report with Bohemians Football Club in order to illuminate two main converging points. This project marks a fundamental shift in the discourse surrounding climate action, moving it beyond the realms of environmental activists and policy circles, into the everyday lived realities of ordinary people through trusted community spaces like sports clubs. Second, it illuminates the power of engaging local communities in progressing energy retrofits – and climate action at large. 

Through this distinctive collaboration, Friends of the Earth and Bohemians FC launched a joint report today titledLevelling The Playing Field: Climate Action For All' at the intersection of football, community, and climate action. 

We joined forces to brief politicians in Leinster House today on this new research, which examines how sports clubs can engage fans and members on community-led climate action, specifically home retrofitting and heat pump installation. Read the full report here. It sets out a groundbreaking approach in engaging communities on measures to enhance energy efficiency in their locality. 

In this video, our policy team talk about this collaboration:

Have you ever found yourself frustrated at how climate discussions and actions often tend to remain within the hallowed halls of policy experts, environmentalists and other niche circles - and far removed from the everyday lived, complex realities of ordinary people? In bringing together football and climate action, this project and the report mark a fundamental shift towards demystifying climate action, making it more relevant to communities and engaging communities directly. It underlines the need for policy makers to consider community-driven, practical approaches to address energy inefficiency and poverty in Ireland. It really does take efforts to walk the talk of levelling the playing field for climate action for all!

Bohemians FC’s approach to community engagement entailed direct consultation with Bohemians members and fans, aiming to understand their diverse perspectives on retrofitting and energy efficiency. Notably, the different member profiles developed in this report primarily focus on those who are currently unable to access or afford full retrofits. The project also had a clear objective of identifying and engaging target groups who have historically been less involved with the environmental movement and the energy transition. 


This joint report with Bohemians FC follows in the footsteps of our earlier report Still Left Out in the Cold, which provides a critical analysis of energy poverty in Ireland, highlighting the inadequacy of current government responses, especially in the private rental sector. 

Read the full report to find out more about Bohemians FC’s comprehensive approach - encompassing workshops, interviews, and the Solutions Meeting - that led to the development of innovative solutions tailored to the community's diverse, intersecting needs. As a result, several promising strategies have been outlined, set to be implemented in 2024. For instance, there was a consensus on the need to simplify complex retrofit information. The report found that using football-related analogies and language could make the information more relatable and understandable to members, bridging the gap between technical jargon and practical understanding. 

This project also entailed meeting with expert stakeholders including the local Credit Union, SEAI, industry professionals and Codema (Dublin’s Energy Agency) to co-develop community-specific solutions to enhance energy efficiency initiatives amongst Bohemian FC’s fans, such as tailored finance, trust-building with local contractors, and formation of a local Sustainable Energy Community. Read the full report here to find out about the other key recommendations, solutions and strategies!

Clare O’Connor, Energy Policy Officer at Friends of the Earth, said:

The government should now look to initiate these types of partnerships with communities and sports clubs across Ireland to leverage their influential platforms for promoting community engagement related to climate awareness and action.


The project effectively demonstrated a concept — when a community approach is authentically adopted, in this case through fans in the local area, it's possible to accelerate climate action through trusted community institutions like sports clubs

This project leverages the power of sports in uniting people and cutting across diverse communities, and elucidates how this would be beneficial in encouraging more people, especially those who otherwise would not have been involved, to join the climate movement and work together on energy transition. 

The resultant multi-pronged approach of this project focuses on the win-wins of climate action for everyone – warmer homes and lower energy bills.