F1 chasing green formula in Dubai

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By   www.thenational.ae

Anyone who has heard the choking roar of an engine being throttled as the sleek frame of a Formula One car turns a corner will find it hard to associate the sport with environmental awareness.

Green and go: Formula One teams are turning to environmental thinking by reducing their carbon footprint. Julio Munoz / EPA
Green and go: Formula One teams are turning to environmental thinking by reducing their carbon footprint. Julio Munoz / EPA

But seeking to reduce carbon emissions has become standard corporate-social-responsibility fare – and even the F1 stables have jumped on the bandwagon.

One of these is the Lotus F1 team, whose drivers include Kimi Räikkönen, a former world champion.

Lotus drivers finished second and third in the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 22. The team aims to achieve carbon neutrality by the end of this year.

While Lotus was neither first in the race in Bahrain nor the leader in turning to environmental thinking among F1 teams, it is in the driver’s seat in reducing, rather than simply offsetting, its carbon footprint.

The team has hired Advanced Global Trading (AGT), a carbon-credits trader in Dubai that provides consultancy for companies looking to boost their green credentials.

AGT, which Lotus hired for three years, will first audit Lotus’s operations, including its headquarters in the United Kingdom and its suppliers, as well as the Lotus team’s activities on the road.

After thorough stocktaking, AGT will advise Lotus on ways of reducing its carbon emissions.

“To properly reduce emissions, you have to reduce them in your daily work,” said Stephen Curnow, the chief commercial officer at Lotus. “It’s not just a case of just buying credits.”

Despite the best intentions, a sport based on driving big-engined, fuel-burning cars at high speeds will never be able to function without emitting carbon dioxide, so the team will make use of AGT’s trading capabilities to buy credits to achieve the desired carbon neutrality.

AGT will also help Lotus’s sponsors, among them Marks & Spencer, Unilever and Symantec, to reduce their emissions.

“The image of F1 is perhaps slightly unfair,” said Mr Curnow. “If you look at any large international event, you need to transport fans, equipment … so really, F1 is no worse or better than [many of those competitions].”

At least compared with many companies and organisations in the Middle East, the gas-guzzling F1 seems to fare favourably, given the still-fledgling nature of green thinking in the region. This provides opportunities for AGT’s carbon-emissions trading business.

AGT, founded two years ago, relocated its headquarters to Dubai shortly after its inception. The company has several offices around the world.

Although AGT has advised multinational companies such as Rolls-Royce and Samsung on carbon reduction, its UAE operation has focused on the trading of carbon credits.

“Our main business in Dubai has been on the personal investment side; credits are a tradeable commodity,” said Charles Stephenson, the director at AGT.

This is changing, however.

AGT has started working with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to transform it into the region’s first transport regulator to achieve carbon neutrality. AGT also counts the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority and the property company Landmark among its clients. More info