Driving Towards a Greener Future: Formula 1’s Eco-Race to Net Zero

"Formula 1 Faces Scrutiny Over Carbon Footprint as Global Attention Shifts to Climate Change"

Formula One, also known as F1, has long been associated with luxury, excitement, and glamour. However, as the global conversation around climate change intensifies, the sport is facing increased scrutiny regarding its carbon footprint and efforts to reduce it. With Formula 1 heading to Las Vegas for the first time this Friday, more attention is being placed on the company’s sustainability initiatives.

The amount of carbon dioxide emitted by cars each year has led to environmentalists closely examining the impact of Formula 1. In its 2019 sustainability report, when the company first announced its goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2030, it was revealed that Formula 1 emitted 256,551 tonnes of CO2. This carbon footprint is primarily generated by the 10 teams, 20 car units, and 23 racing events held in various locations. Interestingly, less than 1% of the total carbon emissions came from the use of F1 cars themselves. The majority of the emissions, 45%, were attributed to logistics, including air, sea, and road transportation. This is a common trend in popular sports, where a significant portion of the pollution is caused by the travel of players and fans. In fact, up to 85% of emissions from professional sports events come from fan travel and accommodation. Other contributors to Formula 1’s emissions include the energy required to power race tracks, particularly for night events, as well as car production and track maintenance.

Recognizing its undeniable environmental impact, Formula 1 has made a commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. The company also aims to make each race sustainable by 2025. To achieve these goals, Formula 1 is implementing various measures.

One of the key initiatives is the use of sustainable fuels. Formula 1 has successfully introduced E10 fuel, which consists of 10% ethanol, to its power units, resulting in reduced carbon emissions. The company plans to transition to running its cars on 100% sustainable fuels by 2026, in collaboration with Saudi Arabian Aramco and other major fuel companies. These alternative fuels will utilize carbon capture technology or municipal waste to further reduce CO2 emissions, offering potential reductions of up to 96%. Formula 1 intends to partner with F2 and F3 to test these cleaner fuels.

Another important aspect of Formula 1’s sustainability efforts is the use of renewable energy. The company has been recognized with the top sustainability management accreditation from the motorsport governing body FIA for its use of 100% renewable energy in its offices. Some venues are powered by solar panels, and there are plans to expand the use of renewable energy to other circuits.

In addition to these measures, Formula 1 is implementing various sustainability practices, such as standardizing cars with V6 engines that are designed for fuel efficiency and promoting environmentally-friendly racing. The company is also encouraging fans to adopt greener ways of traveling to events, reusing and recycling waste at races, and recycling tires as fuel for cement manufacturing.

Individual F1 drivers are also making contributions to the sport’s sustainability efforts. For example, world champion Sebastian Vettel has chosen to drive to racing events instead of flying in order to reduce his travel emissions.

Formula 1 is also supporting carbon projects that generate carbon credits, including the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve in Indonesia and renewable energy generation projects in Zambia and India. However, the company has not disclosed the exact amount of credits it is purchasing to offset its emissions.

Looking ahead, Formula 1 plans to further improve the logistics of the Grand Prix to reduce the sport’s carbon footprint. As the Las Vegas Grand Prix approaches, fans and critics alike are eagerly anticipating the event. Ticket prices for the Las Vegas Grand Prix have significantly dropped, with Friday prices decreasing by 62% and Saturday prices decreasing by 34%. While Formula 1’s sustainability efforts show promise, they are just the beginning of the race. With seven more years to go until 2030, Formula 1 is fully committed to racing towards its net zero emissions goal.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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