Formula E becomes first sport to achieve net zero carbon footprint

Exclusive: Electric racing series’ carbon neutrality dates back to its inaugural season in 2014

Alex Pattle
Monday 21 September 2020 07:54 BST
Formula E drivers compete during the 2019 Diriyah E-Prix in Saudia Arabia
Formula E drivers compete during the 2019 Diriyah E-Prix in Saudia Arabia
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Formula E has become the first sport to achieve a certified net zero carbon footprint in its efforts to combat climate change.

Their carbon neutral footprint dates back to the inception of the electric racing series in 2014.

Formula E has been calculating its carbon output since its inaugural season and implementing measures to reduce emissions, based on a framework set out by the UN.

Reduction measures have included enhanced recycling of Formula E cars’ battery cells, cutting out single-use plastics on race sites, and the serving of 100 percent locally sourced and seasonal food at events.

Optimising transport and logistics during the championship season, which involves global travel, has also been a key means of reducing carbon emissions. Transport accounts for up to 75 percent of emissions by Formula E, who are aiming to cut that output by 25 percent come their 2022/23 season, replacing air transport with shipping where possible.

Certain emissions are classed as “unavoidable”, such as those resulting from spectator travel to and from races. While Formula E has combated that specific factor through a no-parking policy at race markets – reducing their emissions by 20-50 percent in the process – these overall “unavoidable emissions” have in any case been certified as “offset” due to Formula E’s investment in “Gold Standard” socially sustainable projects and renewable energy production.

Among these projects, all based in locations that have held Formula E races, are wind power energy generation efforts in Argentina, Uruguay and Morocco, biomass energy generation efforts in China, and landfill gas generation efforts in the United States, Mexico, Chile and Malaysia.

Each project has “social benefits to the local communities in which they are located”, said Formula E’s Sustainability Director Julia Palle, speaking exclusively to The Independent. The series’ investment in these projects also marks an attempt to “give back to these communities that believed in us since the beginning”, Palle added.

The 2020 Marrakesh E-Prix in Morocco was a replacement for a planned Hong Kong event

“We have a responsibility to minimise the environmental impact of our global sport and are pleased to support vital environmental projects in each of our race markets,” said Formula E CEO Jamie Reigle, who this month signed the UN’s EU 2030 letter in support of the organisation’s Race to Zero campaign for a decarbonised economy.

Touching on that move, Palle told The Independent: “We are very proud of having achieved net zero, but this is not the end of the story for us. We’ve committed clearly to follow climate science and align our reduction objective.”

Jean Todt, president of motor sport governing body the FIA, added: “I welcome this important step forward by the ABB FIA Formula E Championship for the environment.”

Formula One, which is also targeting carbon neutrality by 2030, went hybrid in 2009.

The news of Formula E’s net zero carbon footprint comes amid the launch of Climate Change Week NYC 2020.

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