Morten is most known as a successful midfielder through his football career in Norway, the Netherlands and Italy, but to those who know him he is also really passionate about climate and environmental issues. Morten takes the climate crisis very seriously and tries his best to reduce his own carbon footprint and he also engages teammates and supporters to do better everyday choices. Morten has recently tested positive for Covid-19 and is sitting in quarantine in Genova in Italy. He was happy to answer a couple of questions regarding his passion besides football:
What are your concerns around the climate and the effects of global heating?
My concerns are that we keep on going with “business as usual” and end up with a three to four degrees warmer world, which is where we are heading now. That is a world where some of our fundamental needs, like water and food, will be under severe pressure. Flood, drought, wildfire and high temperatures will cause mass starvation and make millions of people climate refugees.
Can football clubs or sport clubs do anything to be more sustainable?
Yes, the whole sport industry should do a lot more. Not only because it is responsible for a considerable amount of emissions, but because sports have the ability to inspire people. Furthermore, most sports are very dependent on the natural world surrounding them and should take better care of it. The sport industry should take a clear position as one of the leading industries to change. Even though many things are happening, the sport industry, football especially, is very much focused on short term goals. This narrow focus makes it difficult to make the necessary changes that require a long-term perspective.
What personal actions do you take to reduce your carbon footprint?
In my eyes you have three ways as an individual to contribute when it comes to the climate and environmental crisis.
Most important. Use your vote! Political change is the key factor to be able to turn this around.
Second, speak out and use your voice to spread the message. There are so many ways you can contribute, in almost every city you have the possibility to join a movement or an environmental group. Speak with your family and friends and influence them!
Third, you should do what you can to cut your own footprint. It is easy to think that individual action does not help, that is fundamentally wrong. We should all do our part, and the whole reason we have a problem is because everyone thinks this way! Leading by example is an important principle, and makes you more trustworthy, while people around you might be inspired to do the same!
To answer the question. I have cut down flying for personal matters to a minimum. Unfortunately, I still have to fly occasionally when we play away games with the team. For these flights I use a carbon offset program, which is not optimal, but the best option available. I have stopped eating red meat and cut down on all other animal products. I drive an electric car, and I am trying to be a responsible consumer and do not buy things unless I really need them.
What is the biggest challenge being a professional athlete fighting for the climate?
The most difficult part of being a professional athlete and an activist, is that I am not able to live as sustainable as I wish. Because of my work I have to travel to both club and national team games. Emissions related to work is not a particular problem for the football industry, we all have a problem because currently there are no sustainable ways to travel long distances. Probably a lot of that traveling is unnecessary, but the cost of travel is too low. That is why we must fight for a system change through politics.
Do you have some advice to what each and one of us can do to make better, and more sustainable choices in our everyday life?
The best tip I can give is to educate yourself on these issues. It can be depressing and sad in the beginning, but my tip is to turn those emotions to passion! That will affect people around you and the snowball effect starts.