25/10/2022- Member

How Green is your Fencing?

As BF seeks expressions of interest from members of the fencing community to form a new BF Environmental Sustainability Action Group, BF member David Worsfold asks members to think about their impact on the environment. 

Sport is facing increasing scrutiny in the battle to limit global warming and the damage being caused by climate change.

The United Nations Climate Change Action Plan includes a commitment to “drive sport to net zero by 2040” and it has produced a “collective plan for putting sports on a trajectory to delivering change at the pace the world needs”. Greening sport and, specifically, reducing its carbon footprint is no longer an optional “nice to do”: it has moved centre stage in the battle to save the planet for future generations.

The governing bodies of a handful of major sports have pledged to reach net zero by 2030. Sadly, fencing is not among them yet so what can individuals, clubs and governing bodies do to play a meaningful part in this mission?

Below are some actions that would start to make a difference.



Sports venues are being asked to reduce their carbon footprints and competition organisers could accelerate the progress on this by using a simple checklist before booking venues. This should include:

  • Energy – does the venue use energy from renewable sources? Large, multi-purpose sports centres require large amounts of energy so we should ask how they are addressing this challenge.
  • Plastics – does the venue discourage or prohibit single use plastics such as plastic cups and disposable water bottles? British Fencing is actively discouraging single-use plastics and we should all be taking refillable bottles rather than buy water in single-use plastic bottles.
  • Food choices – while food choices are a personal matter, increasing numbers of people are adapting their diet to reduce the amount of meat they eat, acknowledging that meat production is a major contributor to greenhouse gases. All venues should be catering for this and should provide a full range of plant-based options.
  • Food waste – how does it minimise food waste if it has catering outlets?
  • EV charging – does it offer charging points for electric vehicles? Asking the question will encourage the investment.
  • Travel – is it easily accessible by public transport? Too many venues are chosen because they offer easy access from motorways rather than by public transport. This mind-set needs to change.

If there is a red flag against any of these headings then perhaps you should look for a more appropriate venue that takes sustainability more seriously. There are now many venues that are fully sustainable, so finding somewhere suitable is getting easier all the time.



There are so many things we can all do to adjust our life styles to reduce our own carbon footprint. When it comes to our participation in sport there are a few obvious factors to focus on.

  • Can you travel by public transport to training and competitions? If that is not possible, can you car share, preferably in an electric vehicle. After 2030 you will no longer be able to buy petrol or diesel cars so the transition to EVs is now in full swing meaning an increasing number of fellow fencers should have access to an EV.
  • How do you dispose of unwanted kit, wires and blades? You should make sure that everything that has reached the end of its serviceable life is either recycled or disposed of in a sustainable way.
  • Avoid single use plastics, especially water bottles. Take your own bottle and fill it up at the club or competition venue.


International travel

International competitions are a major feature of the world of fencing and there is no getting away from the significant contribution this makes to the sport’s carbon footprint.

When travelling to continental Europe trains are now a serious option, as British Fencing has agreed a new policy with Eurostar for transporting fencing kit. This opens up the possibility of travelling to many European venues by train. Not only does it reduce your carbon footprint but can also reduce the stress of travelling.

Short haul flights in particular are highly polluting, although it is hard to avoid using them when travelling to some parts of continental Europe. Try to pick airlines that fly to airports near to the town or city where the competitions are being held as long road transfers only add to your carbon footprint.

If you feel like treating yourself to business class – don’t. This has three times the carbon footprint of economy class according to an authoritative study by the World Bank.

One of the best ways to tackle the challenge posed by your international air travel is to look at carbon offsetting.  You can offset your carbon footprint by planting trees or contributing to clean-energy projects – anything from distributing efficient cooking stoves through to capturing methane gas at landfill sites.

This is controversial for some climate campaigners – and there are some very suspect schemes out there – but it does help. Yes, they will increase costs but no-one has ever said that saving the planet will come cheap.


Make a start

British Fencing is starting to address these issues as are manufacturers like Leon Paul and their associated Salle Paul Club. These are just some preliminary ideas but they should help start a wider conversation about how fencing can join other sports on the journey to net zero, perhaps joining those sports that have pledge to strive to reach that target by 2030.


David Worsfold,

BF Member


If you are interested in joining BFs Environmental Sustainability Action Group click here. Expressions of interest deadline – November 15th.


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