IOC Sustainability and Legacy Commission chair Prince Albert delivered a keynote address at the  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ©Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee has taken up a leadership role within the "Sports for Climate Action Initiative", a new programme established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Initiative was launched in partnership with the IOC at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC currently taking place in Katowice, where world leaders are preparing to implement the Paris Agreement to limit the rise of global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The IOC will provide support for the widespread implementation of the Initiative, which aims to increase awareness of urgent climate issues within the sports community and to encourage positive action.

Other sporting organisations to have signed up include the Organising Committees for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024, World Sailing, the World Surf League, Roland Garros and Forest Green Rovers – a United Kingdom-based, professional football club dedicated to “greening up” football.

"Addressing climate change is everyone’s responsibility, and the IOC treats it very seriously - as an organisation, as the owner of the Olympic Games and as the leader of the Olympic Movement," said IOC President Thomas Bach.

"Sport is about action, and today the world needs urgent action to limit the rise of global temperatures.

"The Olympic Movement and the sports community at large are committed to making their contribution to the Sports for Climate Action Initiative."

Speaking at the event, Prince Albert II, chair of the IOC Sustainability and Legacy Commission, commented: "The IOC is proud to have taken on a leadership role in the Sports for Climate Action Initiative.

"With its global reach, universal appeal and the power to inspire and influence millions of people around the globe, sport is uniquely placed to drive global climate action and encourage crowds to join in.

"As countries here in Katowice prepare to turn their climate commitments into reality, we stand ready to leverage the power of sport to support their efforts."

With support from the IOC, Tokyo 2020 has already taken steps to reduce the environmental footprint of the Games by maximising the use of existing venues and by the planned deployment of energy-saving technologies.

These will include the maximum possible use of electricity generated from renewable sources at competition venues and other facilities, including the Olympic Village, and the utilisation of fuel cell vehicles for the transportation of Games-related personnel during the Games.

Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshirō Mutō commented: "Since the establishment of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, we have positioned sustainability as one of our most important principles, and believe that measures to combat climate change represent one of its most important components.

"Tokyo 2020 has already initiated a number of activities in conjunction with partner organisations aimed at addressing climate change, and we are delighted to announce our support for this international framework today.

"We launched our own initiative called 'Towards Zero Carbon' which aims to minimise the impact on the climate of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

"We will continue along this path engaging in various initiatives aimed at achieving this goal, and hope that these will help spur activities by other organisations to combat climate change at other major sporting events.

"We believe this will be a key legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games."

The Sports for Climate Action Framework calls on the sports world to develop a climate action agenda for sport adhering to five principles - promoting greater environmental responsibility, reducing overall climate impact, educating for climate action, promoting sustainable and responsible consumption, and advocating for climate action through communication.

Sport is already being heavily impacted by climate change.

Unreliable snow and warm winters are threatening winter sports, and rising summer temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns are increasingly challenging for summer sports athletes, event organisers and spectators.

To support the Framework, the IOC has released two practical guides.

The first is "Carbon Footprint Methodology for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games", which provides detailed guidance to the Organising Committees on how to measure the carbon footprint of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The second, "Sports for Climate Action", published in collaboration with the UNFCCC, aims to provide the Olympic Movement at large with a general understanding of the issues related to climate change and managing carbon emissions.

Sustainability is a working principle of the Olympic Movement and one of the three pillars of its strategic roadmap for the future - Olympic Agenda 2020.

The IOC’s long-term strategic intent for 2030 is to put in place effective carbon reduction strategies for operations and events, in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

As an organisation, the IOC has put in place carbon-reduction measures and is compensating its residual emissions thanks to its official carbon partner, Dow.