Report: Extreme E Has The Lowest Carbon Footprint In Motorsports

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Extreme E, the off-road electric racing championship featuring wild, all-electric rally buggies, has published its first Sustainability Report, which describes its carbon footprint for Season 1. The report summarizes Extreme E’s sustainability tactics and achievements throughout its first season while also outlining its strategy and focus for 2022 and beyond. Drum roll, please! The winner of all racing series with the lowest carbon footprint in international motorsports is Extreme E, with 8,870 tCO2-e emitted, or 1,774 tCO2-e average emissions per race.

It’s clear that Extreme E has placed significant emphasis on embedding sustainability at the core of its business model.

Extreme E’s Season 1 Sustainability Report details the series’ journey to becoming carbon net zero by the end of its first full year in existence. The low carbon footprint goal was achieved by measuring its emissions inventory; detailing Scope 1, Scope 2, and quantifiable Scope 3 sources; and offsetting in full for what could not be avoided, utilizing ALLCOT, a UN certified world-leader in carbon project development.

lowest carbon footprint in international motorsport
Diagram provided by Extreme E

Methods used to curtail Extreme E’s carbon footprint included:

  • Using electric vehicles for racing
  • Not having fans on site, but, instead, engaging them through innovative broadcast and social media entertainment
  • Refurbishing a former Royal Mail ship to carry freight and logistics in place of air travel
  • Using AFC Energy hydrogen fuel cells, which utilize solar and water to create electricity for powering the race vehicles
  • Powering the paddock operations with second-life Zenobe batteries
  • Capping race team personnel to just 7 people — two drivers, one engineer, and 4 mechanics.

Carbon Offsetting is Key to Achieving the Lowest Carbon Footprint in International Motorsports

How has Extreme E accomplished these goals?

It offset its Season 1 carbon footprint by investing in environmental certificates for a wind farm in Patagonia, Argentina. Known as being one of the windiest regions of the world, each year 300 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of clean renewable electricity is supplied to the grid and 190,000 tons of GHG emissions are prevented from entering the atmosphere.

The series races only 100% electric vehicles — it designed and built the cutting-edge ODYSSEY 21 car. Manufactured by Spark Racing Technology with a battery produced by Williams Advanced Engineering and bespoke designed tires by Continental, this all-electric car is designed to withstand the harsh race conditions. The car’s peak 400kw (550bhp) output is capable of firing the 1780-kilogram, 2.3-meter wide e-SUV from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, at gradients of up to 130%.

Extreme E is a signatory member of the UN Sports for Climate Action initiative, which calls on sporting organizations to acknowledge the contribution of the sports sector to climate change and their responsibility to strive towards climate neutrality for a safer planet.

By joining forces with Count Us In, the racing series inspires fans to pledge to live a less carbon intensive lifestyle and reduce their individual environmental impact. The Count Us In Challenge inspired 1,231 Extreme E fans to make 3,207 pledges. This equates to a carbon saving of 1,241,223 kg CO2e – which equates to over 1200 flights from London (LHR) to New York (JFK).

Extreme E is the first sporting series to hire an independent Scientific Committee to advise its activities. The Scientific Committee comprises of industry-renowned climate scientists, including academics from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. The committee helped to raise awareness on climate issues and solutions, and Season 1 focused on desertification, ocean health, Arctic ice melt, wildfires, and biodiversity.

Extreme E’s Commitment to Leave a Positive Legacy

Extreme E identifies impactful projects for each race location with support from the Scientific Committee, partner NGOs, and engagement with the local community. Legacy projects developed in Season 1 were as follows.

  • Brazil: Teamed up with The Nature Conservancy on its Forest Restoration Program in Pará. The initiative restored 100 hectares of native forest, maintained more than 200 hectares of cocoa-based agroforestry, and worked with local farmers in the process.
  • Senegal: Partnered with NGO, Oceanium, to plant one million mangroves to help combat sea level rise and supported a local community project aimed at improving sustainable practices and education in Niaga, a community close to the race site.
  • Greenland: UNICEF climate change education program- developed and taught to 3,600 school children, along with investment in solar panels and an e-mobility scheme for the local school.
  • Sardinia: Worked with MEDSEA to support recovery response to devastating forest fires on the island, along with a seagrass conservation project to reverse the damage from carbon released from seagrass that has died due to warming sea temperatures.
  • Saudi Arabia: Partnership with the Ba’a Foundation, on a conservation initiative for the endangered green turtle and critically endangered hawksbill turtle. This program included building beach fencing, beach management and monitoring practices, and importing sand to raise the beach to an appropriate level for nesting.
  • United Kingdom: Supported the National Trust to reintroduce 3 pairs of beavers into the Purbeck Heaths wetlands in Dorset to help improve the biodiversity of the area. The beavers are expected to help open up hundreds of hectares of wetlands that have been in ecological decline for decades, restoring freshwater fen and pool habitats for other wildlife. This will improve water quality and carbon storage and reduce flood risk.

What’s Ahead for Extreme E for its 2022 Season?

Image courtesy Extreme E.

As Extreme E switches focus to Season 2, getting underway next week in NEOM, Saudi Arabia, it also outlined its objectives, targets, and action intentions for 2022 and beyond. These are represented by 3 key pillars; Extreme Action, Extreme Impact and Extreme Responsibility, which refer to the environmental, social, and governance aspects of sustainability, respectively. These 3 pillars and the impact areas they cover represent the issues that are most important to Extreme E’s stakeholders and organization, and plans are currently in development to ensure the series meets its objectives for each area.

In reviewing Season 1, Alejandro Agag, CEO and founder of Extreme E, said:

“Extreme E’s Sustainability Report is one of the most important pieces of communication we have released to date. As a sport for purpose championship, which aims to pave the way to a lower carbon future through the promotion of electric vehicles, and accelerate gender equality in motorsport, it’s important we are open and transparent about our methods and our impact. This is just the start of our journey and we are learning all the time, but this report details our journey to having the lowest carbon footprint in international motorsport, and the insight into how we became carbon net zero by the end of our first season. Together with the commitment and expertise of our partners, we are delivering a platform which challenges the way sport is traditionally run; offers tangible solutions which reduce the impact of live events; and which educates our audience on the effects of climate change, inspiring them to make positive choices about their impact on the planet.”

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.

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