Ice-cold climate protection: Cologne Sharks make headway

myclimate supports both the German Ice Hockey League (PENNY DEL) and the Cologne Sharks in achieving their sustainability criteria. Daniel Schultes, Director B2B from the "Kölner Haie" and myclimate sports expert Benno von der Dovenmühle, Corporate Partnerships Manager talk in an interview about the opportunities in sport, where changes are needed now and what has already been initiated.

Foto: Johnny Brungs

Daniel, how did it come about that you as a club dealt with the topic of sustainability?

Daniel: We started early as a club. The reasons were and still are social responsibility, cost savings, role model and also the sponsorship interest that we pursue as an association. We have been very committed to social sustainability for many years and have implemented many important and beneficial projects for society.

From an environmental sustainability point of view, ice hockey is a sport that is often associated with high energy emissions. Through a transparent determination of CO2 emissions and the associated opportunities to reduce emissions, we hope to pursue a sustainable path together with the other DEL associations.

We have already implemented the following. Together with our mobility partner Toyota, our players’ cars are, with a few exceptions, hybrid cars that save emissions. In addition, the work passes, season tickets for our fans and the membership cards of the Kids Club are produced by our partner NatureCards in a climate-neutral and biodegradable way. The introduction of a reusable cup concept in the LANXESS arena was another important step.

Parallel to our own sustainability projects, we participated in a process at the level of the German Ice Hockey League (PENNY DEL) that has led to the inclusion of sustainability criteria in the licensing examination for the first time in the 2024/25 season.


What does this mean in practice?

Daniel: The criteria stipulate, among other things, that each club has to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability in its social contract. In addition to a sustainability officer who is qualified according to the specifications of the league organisation, all clubs have committed to measuring their own carbon footprint and then updating it every two years. Each club is also obliged to develop a reduction path that is aligned with the league office’s goal of reducing its own balance sheet by 50 percent by 2030 and aiming for complete climate neutrality by 2040. Any deviation from this objective must be justified.

As Cologne Sharks, we go one step further. Instead of every two years, we use the smart3 myclimate calculation platform to create a climate balance every season in order to get to know our emission sources and measure progress.


Benno, you are responsible for sports organisations and clubs at myclimate. Why is sport relevant for climate protection?

Benno: We need to step up our efforts to combat climate change and reduce emissions quickly. To this end, sport can bring together very large numbers of people from all sectors. We have just released the sports club calculator together with Sports for Future. This means that we can potentially reach around 90,000 amateur clubs or 27 million members. For the first time, they will have the opportunity to obtain an overview of their own emissions free of charge and related to the association.

There are also huge savings opportunities in sport. From the mobility of players and fans to nutrition, energy and location, there are many factors to consider.


Daniel, How do you experience working with myclimate?

Daniel: From the start of the collaboration, we have been very satisfied with myclimate and its expertise in the field of sustainability and carbon footprint determination. In ice hockey, many issues need to be broken down that do not exist in other sports. We therefore appreciate the opportunity to work together on sustainable solutions, establish a stable approach to the calculation of emissions and thus steadily reduce the footprint over the coming years. We are proud to be part of this partnership and look forward to continuing our joint efforts to make the future more sustainable at all levels. For us, it is very important that we have a competent company at our side in myclimate who can help and advise us, especially now at the beginning of the process of determining our carbon footprint.


Benno, what are the fundamental challenges for sports organisations and clubs??

Benno: Many sports associations and clubs develop their own sustainability concepts, and major sports leagues such as the German Football League, the German Ice Hockey League and the German Basketball Bundesliga integrate sustainability criteria into their licensing. In addition, new climate protection standards and requirements also play an important role.

We have therefore expanded and adapted the offer for sports clubs in recent years. Every sport has its own parameters. In golf, we have to deal with different specifics to amateur football or ice hockey.  

Besides the establishment of a uniform orientation and action framework, the concrete implementation of measurable climate protection measures in sport in practice is one of the biggest challenges. We also support the organisations and associations here in interpreting the data and the resulting measures.


What does this mean specifically for ice hockey?  

Benno: The challenges lie, for example, in game and travel recording. Test matches before the season or participation in European competitions are outside regular league play and make comparability difficult. Air travel by the players before and after the season is also recorded, but a distinction has to be made between trips organised by the club and private travel.

Another example is the use of multi-purpose halls. Some clubs play their games in ice rinks, while the Cologne Sharks, for example, play in one of the largest multi-purpose halls in Europe. The determination of energy consumption is therefore extremely complex due to site-specific factors. This brief excursion alone reflects the balancing act of finding workable measuring methods and solutions that do not overburden clubs and defining clear rules for recording games, travel and energy consumption.


Daniel, What are your next steps or goals?

Daniel: Soon after we have calculated our status quo by calculating our own carbon footprint, it is up to us to work out the reduction path. The first determination results in direct measurement values that can be used more efficiently. Our aim is to work together with all stakeholders to develop projects that benefit both sides and reduce our emissions at the same time.

One idea or approach is the partial conversion of our fleet for players to electric cars together with our main sponsor Toyota. In the long term, it will be a challenge for us – and for many other ice hockey clubs – to integrate sustainable thinking as an integral part of corporate governance because the structures and associated budgets are not as strong as in football, for example. But we are sure that the measures taken have laid a good foundation for this. It is important that all clubs help each other as, unlike on the ice, we all have to work together to achieve the goals.

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