This week’s poll: Formula One’s carbon-neutrality pledge



Will the pledge by Formula One’s governing organisation for the sport to reduce net carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2030 be effective?

Formula One has committed to making the entire sport carbon neutral by 2030 and will do this by increasing the efficiency improvements it has made in racing car engines in recent years, making further improvements to the energy efficiency of its factories, offices and other activities. It will also offset the carbon dioxide emissions generated by moving cars and equipment around the world to races by planting trees, working on technology to capture carbon dioxide from the air, producing better synthetic fuels from captured carbon dioxide and agricultural waste, and acting as a beacon for low energy and carbon dioxide reduction in general.

The pledge is the result of a year’s talks with the motorsport’s governing body FIA, teams, promoters and partners, the organisation states. All of the teams have signed up to the pledge.

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Further reading

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Formula One estimates that its carbon dioxide emissions for 2018 totalled 256,551 tonnes, not including fans’ transport to races. Breaking down this figure, it states:

  • 45 per cent was contributed by logistics, including road, air and sea freight;
  • 27.7 per cent came from personnel travel;
  • 19.3 per cent from factories and facilities;
  • 7.3 per cent from events;
  • 0.7 per cent from all use of cars including racing and testing

In addition to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, F1 has also pledged to eliminate single-use plastics from events and ensure that all waste is reused, recycled or composted by 2025. The percentage of biofuel in F1 fuel will be increased, and the mandated energy efficiency of the next generation of engines, which will replace current power units from 2026, will be increased from the current level of 50 per cent thermal efficiency to further minimise the use of fuel.

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F1’s chairman and CEO, Chase Carey, believes that the sport can help the automotive sector to develop “the world’s first net-zero carbon hybrid internal combustion engine that hugely reduces carbon emissions around the world.”

We would like to know what Engineer readers think of this pledge. F1 has always been a high profile carbon dioxide emitter, with more than 20 races taking place in locations distant from team headquarters and factories.

However, as can be seen above, the actual carbon dioxide emissions from the sport pale into insignificance when compared to other industries (aerospace, for example, emitted 895 million tonnes of CO2 in 2018, comprising two per cent of all human induced carbon dioxide emissions), so does that mean that its pledge will never be a significant contribution to overall efforts to reduce emissions?

On the other hand, if this sport can make good on this promise, will that act as a spur to other technology-dependent sectors? Do F1’s contribution as a focused R&D powerhouse have enough knock-on effects – in assisting automotive engine development, atmospheric carbon capture technology and synthetic fuels – to have a disproportionate additional effect? In short, is this greenwash or an act of authentic significance?

We welcome debate on the subject, but remind all readers to familiarise themselves with our guidelines for the content of comments before submitting, and to note that all comments are moderated for length, grammar and sense before publication. We will publish the results of this poll on 19th November.



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