One of the most historic fields in all of sports, Fenway Park, has recently announced its initiative to become more environmentally friendly – an exciting and promising move toward a future of a greener sports industry.
Fenway originally announced its decision to become a more eco-friendly venue in 2007, when the Red Sox worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council to achieve a five-year plan to become more sustainable. This plan resulted in the installation of solar panels and a unique recycling program at Fenway, allowing the Park to take significant steps in the right direction and to become a role model for other baseball parks throughout the country.
In 2018, the Red Sox announced that it would become even more environmentally friendly by ensuring that the entirety of Fenway’s electricity consumption will be offset with Green-e certified renewable energy certificates (RECs). According to MLB.com, “offsetting two years’ worth of Fenway Park’s electricity consumption accounts for a total of 29,740 RECs.” This amount of 29,740 RECs is the equivalent of the approximate greenhouse gas emissions of 4,749 passenger vehicles being driven over the course of two years. As a result of this 2018 announcement, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the Red Sox as a Green Power Partner.
Fenway’s initiative to go green has recently seen success, as the Park has announced its latest move to become carbon neutral. In late March, the Red Sox confirmed that they have made a deal with Aspirations, a climate finance company, that will purchase offsets to lower Fenway’s carbon footprint. The carbon credits that the team is investing in are a tool that allow for companies to neutralize their emissions by funding green projects.
According to the Red Sox, the organization intends to pay for Fenway’s carbon offsets through ticket sales. Regardless of the team using ticket sales to cover the costs of this sustainable initiative, the ticket prices are expected to remain the same. According to Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner, “A portion of the sale of every Red Sox ticket will be contributed to the Aspiration Planet Protection Fund which will help neutralize the climate impact of each fan attending a game at Fenway Park.”
Aspiration has shown excitement in its partnership with the Red Sox, as CEO and Co-Founder of the company, Andrei Cherny, stated in a press release that the company is “honored to partner with the Red Sox in this effort to bring easy, automated climate impact to every fan that walks into Fenway Park and are excited to set a new standard for climate accountability in sports.”
While this announcement sounds promising, climate activists are concerned that the Red Sox may be the latest organization to succumb to “greenwashing,” a term that is used for companies that make false claims of being environmentally friendly. Greenwashing is a significant issue in the fight against climate change, as it makes it easy for people to fall for ploys that they are doing something environmentally friendly, when in fact, they are not at all. Given the negative environmental impact that professional sports teams can have and the public platform that the Red Sox have, it would be both damaging to the environment and their relationship with their fans should they publicize a greenwashing lie. However, despite these concerns, the Red Sox’s history of showing a concern for the environment and working toward environmentally friendly practices may be an indicator that the move to go carbon neutral is in fact real.
Despite these prior green initiatives, the move to go carbon neutral makes the Red Sox the first carbon-neutral fan experience in Major League Baseball. Although this may sound like a big claim on behalf of the Red Sox, the minor league team Chattanooga Lookouts has already played an entirely carbon-neutral game, proving that it can be done. If a minor league team has successfully moved toward this green initiative, there should be nothing preventing one of the most famous baseball teams in the world from achieving the same goal.
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