I’m not ashamed to say that I care about the environment. Planet Earth is not an unlimited source of energy and we Humans are putting it under great strain. And as if our actions are not damaging enough, occasionally you see horror stories surfacing about natural disasters such as forest fires, like the one that consumed vast acres of the Amazon rain forest this summer. The lungs of the planet were literally burning and we were powerless to do anything about it.
I worry about the world that my daughter will grow up in. Will it still be in a fit state to sustain Human life when she reaches my age? Like so many of us in my generation, I am proud to say that I do my bit. I always recycle, am conscientious about when I use the car, avoid single-use plastics and generally do my best to look after my ecosystem.
But then, every so often, I go motor racing. And that sits somewhat at odds with my principles.
Having completed my debut season of racing this year, I now have more of an appreciation about what goes into running a race car for an event and the potential impact on the environment. What I’ve realised is that it’s not just about the gallons of high-octane fuel that are burned over the course of qualifying and racing.
There’s the business of towing the cars to the track, the fuel-powered generators that need to run throughout the day at certain venues, the consumables that we go through weekend after weekend – brakes, tyres, oil, and of course food. When you stand back and look at motorsport in the stark light of day, it’s difficult to justify its continued existence in a world that is increasingly – and quite rightly – concerned with climate change.
If I am to continue racing in 2020, which I very much intend to do, then I would only feel comfortable doing so if I could reduce the environmental impact of my activities. This is my pledge for sustainable, carbon neutral racing in 2020. It’s something that has been tried and tested at various events over the years, but to my knowledge nobody has ever attempted to run a season carbon neutral in the MX-5 Championship. I want to set an example to my fellow club racers by proving it can be done.
There are two facets to this. One, I will look to reduce my carbon footprint on race weekends as much as possible. This could include being smarter about logistics such as transporting cars and equipment, minimising electrical usage that requires a generator, recycling paper and plastics used on over the course of the weekend, etc.
But reducing carbon will only go so far. I am, after all, getting behind the wheel of a petrol-powered racing car and pounding it round the track for several hours. So there needs to be some kind of trade-off, a carbon offsetting plan that redresses the balance, as it were. Something that gives back to the environment what I am taking away with my activities.
Exactly how I will do this will be the subject of another blog. I’ll be working closely with companies and individuals who are experts in this field over the winter to develop a strategy and look at adjusting the way I go racing.
Ultimately I hope to be an example to other club racers and those starting out in their careers. If I can develop a blueprint of carbon neutral racing that more racers adopt, it will help our planet out and enable us to enjoy our hobbies whilst not polluting the environment for future generations. That’s got to be worth a try, right?