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F1 aims to go carbon neutral - will it succeed?

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton finished third at the 2018 F1 United States Grand Prix
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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton finished third at the 2018 F1 United States Grand Prix
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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton finished third at the 2018 F1 United States Grand Prix 

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton finished third at the 2018 F1 United States Grand Prix

The sport has set an ambitious target of having a carbon footprint of zero by 2030

One-Minute Read
Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 12:09pm

F1 champion Lewis Hamilton was ridiculed recently for speaking out on environmental issues, but now the sport he dominates has announced ambitious plans to go carbon neutral.

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Hamilton’s comments were seen as hypocritical because of F1’s lack of green credentials but it is now positioning itself as a champion of sustainability. In a statement the sport said it was aiming to achieve “a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030”.

It added: “This initiative will cover the Formula 1 cars and on-track activity and the rest of the operations as a sport.

“The plan comes after twelve months of intense work with the FIA, sustainability experts, Formula 1 teams, promoters, and partners, resulting in an ambitious, yet achievable delivery plan.

“Carbon reduction projects will begin immediately to start the journey of becoming a more sustainable sport.”

A tough task

“The globe-travelling sport, which next season will feature a record 22 races, and with proposals to have 25 per year at some stage in the next decade, naturally has a significant impact when it comes to carbon emissions,” says The Guardian. “But following a 12-month project, F1 – in conjunction with the governing body, the FIA, the teams, promoters and other stakeholders – is convinced it can deliver on its stated aims over the coming years.

“The initiative will not only cover the F1 cars and on-track activity, with the key to the strategy being a net-zero carbon hybrid power unit, but also the rest of the sport’s operations, such as logistics and travel, with additional plans for offices, facilities and factories to be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy sources.”

It will be a tough job though. The BBC notes that the sport’s total carbon emissions in 2018 were 256,551 tonnes. But it adds: “F1 plans to offset emissions through a combination of replanting trees and using the engineering knowhow in the sport to develop new technologies that can capture carbon from the atmosphere.”

Rise to the challenge

Former world champion Damon Hill told Sky Sports he thought the sport would be able to rise to the challenge.

“It’s to their credit that they've actually flagged this up and grasped the nettle because they are going to be a target,” he said. “I think that any automotive sport is going to be a target for the concerns and the debate about how we resolve our problem with producing carbon into the atmosphere.

“If anyone can do it, then Formula 1 can. It is about problem solving and there are a number of very talented engineers in Formula 1 who love a problem and they'll find a solution.

"It is a huge challenge for all of us and that's why I think Formula 1 has actually stolen a march a little bit here so that's why by making this announcement they've set themselves a target.

“There's an untold story at the moment about the fuel efficiency of current Formula 1 cars - they're the most phenomenally efficient engines ever produced. But that is not the problem, we need to be able to offset the amount of carbon produced globally by the whole sport.”

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