Sustainability chiefs from Formula E, IKEA, Marks and Spencer and Infosys – all partners of the Climate Group initiative RE100 – said renewable power was good for business and should be a priority for governments tackling climate change.

Ahead of the weekend of racing, Formula E chief executive Alejandro Agag said powering the cars cleanly was vitally important to the racing series: “We know that to reach the full potential of electric vehicle benefits we need to use renewable energy.”

Formula E’s electric cars are charged using generators which run on emission-free glycerine, explained Agag. Agag has said Formula E’s innovation can bring low-carbon vehicles into the mainstream.

100% renewables

Saturday’s panel was attended by representatives of RE100 companies aiming to significantly reduce their reliance on fossil fuels by turning to renewable energy sources. The Climate Group’s chairman Phil Levermore said a strong agreement was needed in the climate talks in Paris later this year and businesses had the opportunity to show leaderhsip.

Levermore said: “With more than half the world’s electricity being used by the industrial and commercial sectors, this is our chance to shift the global energy market in favour of renewable power – helping us to transition to a prosperous, low-carbon future.”

IKEA’s head of UK sustainability Joanna Yarrow added climate change required bold action to find solutions: “That’s why we are going all in to transform our business, to ensure that it is fit for the future and we can have a positive impact.

“This includes going 100% for renewable energy, by investing in wind and solar and converting all our lighting products to affordable LED bulbs, helping many millions of households to live a more sustainable life at home.”

Marks and Spencer’s head of global Plan A – the retailer’s sustainability programme – said: “Being part of RE100 gives us an opportunity to share what we have learned and encourage other businesses to switch to renewable energy.”

Electrifying finish

The final race of Formula E’s first season was won by Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird, in front of a home crowd of around thousands of spectators in London’s Battersea Park.

Brazilian racer Nelson Piquet Jr, driving for Chinese team Nextev, took the championship, winning by a single point ahead of Sebastian Buemi after a seventh place finish. London hosted two races on Saturday and Sunday, with Buemi winning the first race but unable to take fourth place in the second race and claim enough points for the championship.

The sport is designed to promote the latest clean technology, and has this year attracted a broad audience – including young people and celebrities – through its use of urban racetracks and social media.

Over the weekend, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson said Formula E could soon become more popular than Formula 1, the BBC reported.

“I think in four or five years you will find Formula E taking over from F1 in terms of number of people,” said Branson. “As time goes on, the clean energy type of business will power ahead of other businesses.”

Following the final race, Formula E CEO Agag said: “I think the London ePrix definitely has a great future. If we look at how this year went, and if we look at how happy the people were here for the race, they were all so happy to be able to see this racing in London.”

Matt Field

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