With a firm commitment to sustainability and a vision of accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles, Formula E has been revolutionising the racing industry for the past nine years. We sit down with Julia Pallé, Formula E sustainability director, to explore the organisation’s sustainable journey and the strides it has made towards a greener future.
In the world of motorsport, a green revolution is underway – and at the forefront of this movement is Formula E.
From its inception in 2011, Formula E has incorporated sustainability into its DNA – and sustainability director Julia Pallé has been there for every single one of the series’ 124 races. The sustainability team consists of five full-time members and several consultants who specialise in various fields. Pallé, who joined the organisation six months prior to its first race in September 2014, highlights how sustainability is not just a strategy for Formula E but a cultural value that permeates every aspect of the organisation.
“The company was founded with the goal of accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles and promoting sustainable human progress,” says Pallé. “Sustainability is not just a strategic statement for us, but a cultural value that drives us to go above and beyond in everything we do. Over the years, sustainability has become even more central to our organisation, and we continuously strive to improve and stay at the forefront of sustainable practices.”
Formula E implements sustainability initiatives throughout its operations. The design and manufacturing of the Gen3 racing cars serve as a prime example of the organisation’s commitments. “One example is the design of the racing car, where we have implemented sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs) and considered circular economy principles,” Pallé explains. “We have also worked closely with suppliers to ensure sustainable components such as batteries and tires. Additionally, we are focusing on ultra-fast charging solutions to address the infrastructure challenges of electric vehicle adoption.”
Collaborating for a greener future
Formula E stands as a leading racing series in terms of car manufacturer participation and has valuable insights contributing to the advancement of electric vehicle adoption. The organisation believes in collective efforts to promote sustainable transportation and shape a greener future.
It also engages with local communities, cities, and governments is a fundamental aspect of Formula E’s events. “Engaging with local communities and stakeholders has always been important to Formula E,” says Pallé. “We work with prominent associations, charities, schools, and universities near our event locations to create positive legacies. We also collaborate with local charities to address specific issues in each market, customising our approach to the local culture and needs.”
Formula E takes a comprehensive approach to measure and evaluate the success of its sustainability efforts. “We consider feedback and recognition from industry stakeholders as a measure of our success,” says Pallé.
The organisation has achieved world-first certifications and recognitions, notably becoming the first sport to achieve net zero carbon certification against international sustainability standards.
Charting the path to net zero
As previously mentioned, Formula E is the only motorsport series to be certified net zero carbon since its inception, and as such has made a substantial impact on sustainability in the industry.
“Achieving net zero carbon emissions has been a gradual process for Formula E,” Pallé explains. “We started by measuring our carbon footprint for each event and identifying the major contributors, such as freight and business travel. We implemented measures to reduce our carbon footprint, focusing on parameters like logistics and renewable energy.
“After six years of reducing emissions, we reached a point where we were ready to embrace net zero carbon and offset the remaining emissions through certified projects, particularly renewable energy generation projects in countries where we race.”
Formula E collaborates with Quantis, an organisation specialising in carbon measurement and sustainability, to track and measure its carbon footprint. “They have developed a customised data spreadsheet specifically for Formula E’s unique requirements and have been instrumental in managing and interpreting the data,” explains Pallé.
Transparency and progress
Formula E recently released its Season 8 Sustainability Report, entitled Racing For Better Futures, highlighting the organisation’s achievements and focusing on Gen 3 which Pallé calls a “significant milestone” for the company. The report details the company’s collaboration with suppliers and racing teams in integrating sustainability into the racing car and showcases Formula E’s commitment to renewable energy and sheds light on the challenges and advancements in the industry.
According to Pallé, the report is Formula E’s commitment to continue tackling the challenges and advancements in the industry and provides insights into its sustainability initiatives and the progress it has made in promoting electric vehicles among other projects.
For example, Formula E announced last season a 24% emissions reduction on Season 5’s baseline – well ahead of the science-based target of a 45% reduction by 2030. Formula E was also independently ranked and recognised as the most sustainable sport in the world by the Global Sustainability Benchmark in Sports (GSBS) in addition to maintaining the International Standard for Sustainable Events (ISO 20121) and the FIA Three-Star level for Environmental Accreditation.
Pallé believes sustainable practices require investment and have proven to be worthwhile. “Our sustainability initiatives have become a unique selling proposition, attracting sponsors who value them,” she says. “Additionally, programs like Girls on Track and Change. Accelerated. Live are profitable ventures that partners engage with and pay for.
“Investing in sustainability initiatives is highly beneficial. Consumer demand and investor focus on ESG factors drive businesses to prioritise sustainability. It has become a compelling selling point, helping organisations differentiate themselves and remain relevant to their audience.”
The path ahead
Looking to the future, Pallé tells Sustainable Future News about Formula E’s ambitious short-term and long-term goals. “Our main focus is on achieving net zero and science-based targets. However, as we progress, achieving further reductions becomes increasingly challenging, requiring collaboration and partnerships to access new technologies and solutions,” she explains. “We acknowledge that we are a small player in the overall sustainability landscape, and working with organisations like DHL helps us find innovative transport solutions.”
DHL has handled the logistics requirements of Formula E organisers and teams since 2014, transporting over 500 tons of freight – including all race cars, batteries and charging units, media and broadcasting equipment – to urban venues around the world
“Socially, Formula E strives to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the sport, ensuring equal access and opportunities for all,” Pallé adds. “By inspiring behavioural change through sport and supporting grassroots initiatives, Formula E aims to make a positive impact on individuals’ lives.”
Formula E’s commitment to sustainability and its revolution in the racing industry make it a force to be reckoned with. The journey to rival Formula One in popularity and global reach may take time, but the progress has been impressive: since 2020, Formula E holds FIA World Championship status, putting it on the same level as its more prestigious class administratively. The combination of exciting races, a purpose-driven approach, and a dedication to sustainability, provide a strong foundation for growth. As motorsport continues to embrace sustainability, Formula E stands at the forefront, driving the industry towards a greener and more sustainable future.
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