In India, cricket is more than a game and can inspire people to take collective action. The Indian Premier League (IPL) team Royal Challengers of Bangalore understood this and reached out to its fans and the wider public with its Go Green initiative. When TUNZA spoke to RCB owner Sidhartha Mallya, we started by asking what lay behind the campaign.
Climate change and global warming are the most critical issues facing humankind, and we at RCB believe we all must act now – not just at governmental and corporate levels, but all of us. Small actions and lifestyle changes by many people will add up and make a significant difference.
‘RCB began Go Green in 2010 with a number of activities including car pooling for fans coming to matches, waste separation at stadium and its disposal through recycling and composting, collaboration with the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation for additional buses, and a carbon footprint calculator on the RCB website (http://www.royalchallengers.com/go-green). These actions helped reduce emissions, but RCB has decided to become the first carbon-neutral cricket team in the world.
‘Our carbon neutrality won’t be achieved by buying carbon credits that seemingly “wash away” emissions. We launched a unique fan-driven initiative through which RCB fans each make small environmentally friendly changes in their daily lives, and pledge their emission reductions to RCB. The RCB green team is not just the 11 players on the field, but includes more than 100,000 fans, each of whom is contributing in his or her own way. This is a democratic green campaign of the fans, for the fans and by the fans, and they are the real heroes.
‘Our green campaign, which is guided by NextGen, an energy and environment consulting firm, has two basic aims: to raise awareness and to get people to make lifestyle changes. For example, our sapling initiative in schools, colleges and communities doesn’t involve a mass planting. Rather we give saplings to individuals – students, teachers and others – to plant and tend. So far, 10,000 saplings have been planted across Karnataka State. Our objective is not just to plant trees and generate emission reductions, but to change people’s mindsets.
‘Similarly we don’t just promote the use of energy-efficient light bulbs, we make them easily available at a 35 per cent discount. We also urge all RCB fans to travel by bus on Bus Days – the 4th of every month – as a symbol of commitment to sustainable public transport. And our solar water heater initiative, which emphasizes the need to use renewable energy, runs renewable-energy-themed contests on social networks and encourages RCB fans to use solar water heaters. So far, 338 have pledged their emission reductions from the use of solar water heaters.
‘Personally, I’ve taken many of the green lessons learned with RCB back to my family business life. Our companies take great care managing and mitigating our environmental impacts through, for example, conserving water by recycling effluent and process water; using biomass, rice husk, in the boilers; and managing waste, achieving zero discharges at some plants. I strongly believe that for long-term success, economic growth needs to be environmentally responsible and sustainable.
‘As global citizens it is our responsibility to ensure that, at an individual level, each one of us does our bit and takes steps to preserve the planet. Join us in our green initiatives. As we say, “RCB is Game for Green … are you?”’