Croke Park was a hub of activity last week as GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Tom Ryan released his pre-Congress report.

Headlines were plentiful, from the issue of naming rights, Ryan's dig at the Gaelic Players Association to the runaway train that is inter-county expenses [although Dónal Óg Cusack has something to say about that].

Something that perhaps didn’t jump out of the pages amidst the rest of the noise was the association’s commitment to furthering their environmental responsibilities.

When Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna addressed the media, chatting through the 2023 performance of the Jones' Road venue, he became particularly animated when explaining what they had achieved to help climate sustainability, and what they hoped to accomplish in the future.

The Green Club programme currently supports about 200 clubs

They have 26 years to achieve the key goal, as set out in the report.

"Croke Park has a goal to achieve net zero by 2050 and to reduce emissions by 51% by 2030 as set out by Ireland's Climate Action Plan and the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2021.

"Driving this will be the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) which will set a clearly defined path to reduce emissions in line with Paris Agreement goals.

"This is a gold standard framework in which to align ourselves with."

More short-term environmental goals have been put in place for 2024, most notably the completion of a water harvesting project. This will save a considerable amount of water and energy, primarily used for pitch irrigation.

The GAA are also looking to source alternative ways to power the stadium from the traditional fossil fuels and reduce plastic waste.

Croke Park has achieved a number of notable landmarks over the years.

How can sport in Ireland play its part to tackle the climate emergency?

It was the first stadium in the world to obtain certification to the newest international Environmental Standard ISO 14001, awarded in 2010, and has diverted 100% of waste away from landfill from 2014 onwards.

Water stations at the ground jumped by 10 to 33 last year while 85% of ingredients in menus at Croke Park are sourced inside Ireland – 70% within 50 miles of the stadium.

Speaking about the association as a whole, Ryan said that in 2024 they will attempt to expand the Green Club programme, which currently supports approximately 200 clubs in their attempts to improve their sustainability.

"This (climate change) is not specifically a GAA issue of course, but it is an area where we can demonstrate commitment and leadership and where we can make a positive contribution," Ryan said.