Aspen Ideas

NBA Commissioner Talks About League's Efforts Toward Sustainability

The NBA has signed on to halve emissions by 2030 and aim for net zero by 2040.

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On day three of Aspen Ideas: Climate, one of the first sessions included a conversation between NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Executive Director of the Aspen Institute's Sports and Society program, Tom Farrey.

Silver talked at length about how the NBA is getting in the game of sustainability and climate action.

The NBA has signed on to halve emissions by 2030 and aim for net zero by 2040. So the commissioner was asked about how there going to go about that. The short answer is leading by example and leveraging the platform.

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"We have this convening power that, even by virtue of my being included in this conference, that’s a signal that we’re sending to our many fans and followers of our leagues that this is something that is a priority for us," Silver said.

The commissioner highlighted a few very specific examples of the league addressing its own climate issues. Team travel is a major contributor to NBA carbon emissions but the league has taken steps to fix that with schedule changes.

"We’ve made changes in the schedule to reduce the travel, saying that if a team is going to LA, it may seem like a simple thing, but play the Lakers and the Clippers in the same trip rather than crisscrossing across the country separate times. That can make a difference," Silver explained.

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Another example given included our white-hot Miami Heat, which are leading the way with food waste reduction.

"In terms of food, the Miami Heat created a program where excess food is distributed to the food banks throughout the city of Miami," said Silver.

This program not only cuts food waste but also has a positive impact on food insecurity in underserved communities.

More examples from the head of the NBA included sourcing sustainable materials for gear, like jerseys and shoes, and future plans for arena locations near public transportation to reduce carbon emissions of fans heading to the games.

Silver made it clear that they'll do what it takes to get there.

"We’re pledging to get there. Our goal is to get there but I think in order to measure what there is, we have a lot of work to do around the league to best understand what our footprint is right now and go from there," he said.

The commissioner reiterated numerous times during his talk about how important the NBA's role is in having a positive impact on not only climate change but on social justice issues as well, adding support for the players who are passionate about these issues.

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