Formula 1 targets net-zero by 2030

Details on how F1 plans to meet its 2030 target are detailed in its first sustainability strategy. Image: F1

Developed after a 12-month collaboration with F1 teams, promoters, motorsports’ governing body (the FIA) and other key stakeholders, the net-zero plan states that F1 will begin work on key carbon reduction projects “immediately”.

The operators of the series have committed to use 100% renewable electricity, heating and cooling within their offices, facilities and factories by 2030, and to ensure that all logistics are ultra-efficient and either low or zero-carbon by the same deadline. Logistics notably account for 45% of F1’s annual carbon footprint.

As for race-day emissions, the plan includes measures to divert 100% of event waste from landfill by 2025 and an incentives package to support fans to use low-carbon transport to travel to and from events.  

On decarbonising the on-track activities of its cars, F1 as committed to “accelerate progress and develop technologies that reduce and eliminate carbon emissions from the current internal combustion engine (ICE)”. The series has used a hybrid power unit, combined with energy recovery systems, in all cars since 2014 – but believes it could improve this model to deliver a “net-zero carbon hybrid power unit”.

Given that all hybrids burn fuel of some description, the plan states that offsetting to some extent will be required to create such technology. F1 has said it will invest in offsets which further carbon sequestration, both in natural and man-made ways.

As a first step towards these targets, F1 has begun measuring its entire carbon footprint, its energy consumption mix and its waste footprints for the first time.

“Over its 70-year history, F1 has pioneered numerous technologies and innovations that have positively contributed to society and helped to combat carbon emissions,” F1’s chief executive and chairman Chase Carey said.

“From ground-breaking aerodynamics to improved brake designs, the progress led by F1 teams has benefitted hundreds of millions of cars on the road today. We believe F1 can continue to be a leader for the auto industry and work with the energy and automotive sector to deliver the world’s first net-zero carbon hybrid internal combustion engine that hugely reduces carbon emissions around the world.”

FIA president Jean Todt added that F1’s new plans are “not only very encouraging for the future of motorsport, but it could also have strong benefits for society as a whole”, noting that low-carbon F1 technologies are now being applied in sectors outside of transport and sport.

Sustainable sports

Sustainable sport may sound like an oxymoron, given that gathering crowds of thousands of fans in one place will inevitably generate more carbon and waste than if these people had all stayed at home.

The FIFA World Cup 2018, for example, accounted for the emission of 2.17 million tonnes of greenhouse gases – 57% of which were generated through transporting fans, teams, staff and products internationally.

Nonetheless, operational emissions from such large-scale events can be reduced, and these spectacles can also be used to showcase emerging technologies and drive behaviour change at scale around habits ranging from packaging recycling to electric vehicle (EV) adoption. For example, France’s governing body for professional football, the Lique de Football Professionnel (LFP), is working with WWF to engage its audiences with sustainability issues, while the FA Premier League is working with Sky to deliver a plastic-reduction campaign.

In motorsports specifically, Formula E is using its platform to champion the electrification of transport off the track and the potential for a circular economy for batteries. The all-electric series is working with recycling firm Umicore and Williams Advanced Engineering to showcase battery recycling and, since its inception, has been communicating the benefits of EVs to fans.

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Sarah George

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