Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Formula 1
Photo courtesy of Formula 1

Clean Transport

How Can Formula 1 Race Toward 2030 Net Zero Carbon Targets?

The actual live events only produce a fraction of emissions for F1 and other sports. It’s the supporting activities –the impact of sports facilities operations, transportation, and consumption of products and services at the facilities and events, to name a few — that are the real problems.

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Formula 1 cancelled the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix earlier this month due to hundred-year floods. The paddock was underwater. The track was a pond.

If Formula 1 ever needed evidence that Europe was immersed in a climate emergency, this was it. Floods and landslides killed at least 15 people and forced more than 40,000 from their homes. Cleanup efforts for government workers and volunteers meant scooping up mud and recovering what could be salvaged.

What’s needed for Formula 1 to step up and admit its complicity in the climate crisis? Shouldn’t the top tier of single-seater, open-wheeled racing — the premier “formula” — reimagine itself as the pinnacle of sustainability? With the world’s fastest cars and a new shiny ownership group in US-based Liberty Media, the sport has a real opportunity to harness its engineers — the best in the world — on a mission to speed up its constant technological expertise with deliberate sustainability progress.

What’s standing in the way?

Chase Carey, CEO of Formula 1, states, “We believe that F1 can continue to be a pioneer for the auto industry, working with the energy and automotive sectors to deliver the world’s first net-zero carbon power unit, driving down carbon emissions across the globe.” He argues that the series’ current hybrid power unit is “the most efficient in the world,” delivering more power using less fuel, and hence CO2, than any other road car.

The sport’s first sustainability report, published in 2019, stated that F1 produces approximately 256,000 tonnes of CO2 each year, but only 0.7% of F1 emissions come directly from cars.

Then where’s the rub?

73% of the emissions are generated by the logistics of moving the race set-ups across the world 23 times each year. The actual emissions from the cars pale in comparison to the emissions generated from operations. Those total emissions represent a combined figure for Scope 1, 2, and 3. The vast majority come from logistics: air, road, and sea freight amounted to 45% and personnel travel to 27.7%.

The F1 show must go on, and that means transporting the enormous amount of materials and humans it takes to get to the starting lights and the roar of the crowd.

At least Formula 1 issues a sustainability report. Bloomberg Green related this week that just a “piddling” 5% of US companies report their Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike those tied directly to a company’s operations or its energy use, these emissions are the kind churned out along the supply chain to the company, and afterwards by customers using what it makes.

The global sports market was worth over $500 billion in 2020 and is forecast to exceed $700 billion by 2026. With its popularity, socioeconomic consequences, and cultural significance, sport has been the object of growing attention over its environmental impacts. Sport also offers the visibility to raise awareness and promote greater sustainability in everyday life.

Formula 1 & Sport for Sustainability Commitments

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) set as its ultimate objective to stabilize GHG concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system.” They outline a series of ways that climate change is impacting sport.

  • Damage to playing surfaces due to extreme temperatures, extended periods of drought, flooding, and/or pest species extending their natural range;
  • Damage to buildings and other infrastructure due to violent storms;
  • Coastal erosion and sea level rise directly affecting sport properties in seaside areas;
  • Warmer winters and lack of natural snow threatening ski resorts at lower altitudes;
  • Unseasonal rainfall forcing cancellation or abandonment of sport matches;
  • Heat waves forcing changes to timing of sport events;
  • Increased injuries to players from heat exhaustion and impact injuries from harder playing surfaces;
  • More potentially harmful algal blooms limiting direct contact outdoor water sports;
  • Sub-standard fan experience where high temperatures create potential health risks and detract from the enjoyment of the event; and,
  • Climate adaption measures being required in the design of new or refurbished sport venues.

Hundreds of sports organizations around the world have agreed to adhere to the Sports for Climate Action Framework. Formula 1, Formula E, and Extreme E are all signatories.

How can Formula 1 and other sports achieve these goals? There are 2 main pathways:

  1. Reduce the amount of emissions an organisation produces, compared to a predetermined baseline; or,
  2. through the acquisition of carbon offsets that balance out the emissions caused by the organisation through an investment in projects that sequester or prevent the same amount of emissions.

Formula E is the model for other sports to follow toward sustainability. Back in 2020 it was recognized as the first sport in history to achieve Net Zero Carbon certification since inception. In 2021 it committed to science-based targets, delivering a reduction in carbon emissions of 45% versus a baseline of Season 5 output by 2030. In the most recent Season 8 it delivered against requirements by continually measuring and reducing all emissions and offsetting a remaining 33,800 t CO2eq. To do so, they invested in the Piedra Larga Wind Farm II in Mexico, which contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals through job creation and significant renewable energy generation.

The all-electric car racing series counts all scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions within its assessment. Its scope 3 (or indirect) emissions accounted for 95% of its carbon footprint over the course of season 6, for example, with spectator travel and food and beverage accounting for a proportion. However, air freight is Formula E’s greatest source of emissions (71%) – a challenge that is being addressed with freight supplier DHL.

Formula 1 has implemented some beginning changes to meet the UNFCCC objectives, according to The Sustainability Report.

  • F1 and the teams have shifted their offices and factories to renewable energy.
  • They’ve reduced the number of staff traveling.
  • Broadcasting operations have shifted from Kent rather than at race meetings.
  • It uses lighter and more efficient air freight methods and modern aeroplanes.
  • It increased the use of sea freight and local hubs for storage of equipment.
  • Contracts with promoters are being worked through to streamline the calendar and reduce the number of flights required.

Sport events around the world find themselves in a tenuous position. They are able to attract enormous audiences and resulting profitability. Yet those factors clash with sustainability requirements. Solutions are slow-paced, unfortunately.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

EV Obsession Daily!

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

Tesla Sales in 2023, 2024, and 2030

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.
Written By

Carolyn Fortuna (they, them), Ph.D., 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 Leavy Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a Model Y as well as a Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.


You May Also Like

Clean Power

Countries are setting records in deploying technologies such as solar power and electric vehicles (EVs), and the IEA now projects that demand for coal,...


I am betting on collective sanity, rational behavior of governments, and funding getting into the right hands as opposed to into the hands of...

Autonomous Vehicles

Newly released data indicates that the latest electric medium duty and heavy duty trucks are increasingly ready to handle a lot of North America’s...


Electric rideables are absurdly efficient at moving people and small loads through urban areas without causing congestion, without noise, without pollution and without greenhouse...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.