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  • Writer's pictureEster Fonseca-Patriarco

Sustainable Solutions That Are Being Adopted by Formula 1 to Reduce Emissions

Formula 1 is now looking for sustainable solutions and green technology to reduce its CO2 emissions and ensure its operations are more environmentally friendly. This includes hiring sustainability experts and developing a sustainable fuel that could be used by road cars.

1. Hired the first Head of Sustainability and Sustainability Coordinator

Since January 2022, Ellen Jones has worked as Formula 1's first Head of Sustainability. She has a master's degree in Sustainable Environmental Design and previously worked as the Global Head of Sustainability at the sandwich shop franchise Pret A Manger. Alongside Ellen, Camille Wood is F1's first Sustainability Coordinator. Besides having a master's degree in Leadership for Sustainable Development, she has vast global experience working in the environmental sector. Together, the sustainability team has a big challenge: to decrease the sports' carbon footprint and ensure that F1 leaves a positive legacy wherever they race.

2. Updated internal policies

Formula 1 updated its internal policies and compliance procedures relating to sustainability. That includes its Code of Conduct, Sustainability Policy, and Procurement Guidelines. Their goal is to ensure that the F1 business is conducted ethically and following applicable laws.

3. Calculating and reporting the sports' environmental impact

In 2019, Formula 1 published its first-ever Sustainability Strategy, a 10-page document emphasizing the goal of net zero carbon emissions "from factory to flag" by 2030. The paper also estimated F1's scope 1, 2, and 3 footprints. Since then, they have published other reports, such as a sustainability and diversity & inclusion progress and an ESG briefing note. While we love to see F1 creating ambitious targets, calculating and reporting their impact is essential to provide further visibility of where to put more effort to reduce their environmental impact.

4. Communicating and collaborating with teams

In 2022, F1 continually met with the racing teams to raise awareness and discuss carbon measurement, water refill, and broadcaster briefing issues. The goal was to communicate and collaborate with the teams about every environmental action that could be taken internally.

5. Collaborating with key stakeholders about events logistics

As well as in 2022, F1 issued best practice recommendations to key stakeholders and host race promoters to help them operate more environmentally friendly events. The guidance examines essential topics like energy, plastic and waste, well-being and the environment, local fan travel, and carbon. Through that, F1 hopes to set standards for upcoming seasons.

Photo by Marcel Heil on Unsplash

6. Reviewing the race calendar

The 2023 race calendar features a record-breaking number of 23 Grand Prix races, which will happen across 20 different countries. F1 logistics and business travel account for almost three-quarters of the sports' total emissions. Moving equipment and staff across five continents can drastically impact the environment. Therefore, F1 wants to look at rationalizing the race calendar for the future. This is not an easy challenge, as many circumstances can affect the order of races, such as regional climate in specific months of the year. However, rationalizing and optimizing the calendar is an action that can have a direct influence on F1's most significant carbon footprint.

7. Transitioning to renewable energy in their offices, facilities, and factories

Though they do not detail how it's accomplished, Formula 1 claims that their Media and Technology center is powered by 100% biofuel natural gas and that all its UK offices are powered by 100% renewable electricity, guaranteed through a Power Purchase Agreement. Furthermore, the series is committed to using 100% renewable energy at Grand Prix races and transitioning from diesel to hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) in core broadcasting generators at races.

8. Broadcasting via remote operations

During the pandemic, the world had to readapt. F1 introduced remote broadcast operations and was the first sports production with UHD Remote operation deployed globally. The action significantly impacted F1 logistics emissions throughout the 2020 and 2021 seasons. It helped reduce traveling staff and reduced the need to transport 70 tons of freight to each race. According to F1, the initiative resulted in a 34% reduction in broadcast freight.

9. Developing a 100% sustainable fuel

Initially, it was a bit ironic to see Formula 1 spending so much time and money on marketing campaigns about developing a 100% sustainable E fuel when F1 cars are responsible for the smallest chunk of the sports' CO2 emissions. And let's remember that producing E fuels is an energy intensive process. Wouldn't that be greenwashing? Exaggerating and emphasizing a solution that will generate less impact than optimizing the race calendar, for example?

However, after analyzing its mission, we understand that F1 wants to use its advanced technology to create an E fuel that can benefit motorsports and the entire global transportation sector. They argue that only a tiny percentage of cars will be electric by 2030. Therefore, there will be a demand for a low-carbon fuel that can be used in existing ICE vehicles. F1 expects that this 100% sustainable fuel will help reduce emissions globally.

10. Created the most efficient hybrid engine in the world

Since 2014, F1 cars have had the most efficient hybrid engine in the world. That engine combines a traditional combustion engine with an electric motor, allowing for improved efficiency, increased fuel economy, and reduced emissions. Chase Carey, the former CEO of F1, says their cars deliver more power using less fuel than any other road car.



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