The Future of Sustainability: The FIA Makes its Mark at COP28

During a packed fortnight at COP28, the FIA ran a dedicated stand in the Blue Zone, hosted a motor sport and mobility sustainability event on Transport Day, launched Drive Change Today, a dedicated FIA Smart Driving Challenge for COP28, and participated in the promotion of ISO Net Zero Guidelines.

As the only sport represented in both the COP28 Green and Blue Zones, motor sport was highlighted as an agent of change in the fight against climate changewith the FIA’s activations being completed by events hosted by Formula E and Envision Racing Team.

With its unique position, the FIA asserted the importance of sport and mobility representation at the United Nations Climate Conferences and the pressing need for these to take centre stage in the global conversation. 

COP28 was the opportunity for the Federation to connect with stakeholders and policymakers from across the world, as it continues to pursue a safer, more sustainable, just and accessible mobility and motor sport future. 

Shaping a Just Transition to a Net-Zero Road Transport Future – Green Zone Main Stage

The FIA hosted its own dedicated speaker events in the Green Zone for Transport Day. Hosted by Sky Sports’ David Garrido, the events gathered inspiring and influential speakers from the worlds of motor sport and mobility.  

In an opening statement, FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “At the FIA, we are committed to doing our part and making the most of our strengths. Thanks to our global network, we know there is no one-size-fits-all approach to decarbonisation. We are championing innovation, exploring all technologies with the aim to transfer advances from the track to the road, implementing sustainable practices within our federation, and pushing the limits for a low carbon future. We have set ambitious targets. We know this is just the beginning and we are embarking all our motor sport and mobility stakeholders on this journey.”

A video on the FIA’s commitment to building a sustainable future for motor sport and mobility was shared with the audience. 

Watch the video below:

SAE Sustainable Mobility Solution President Frank Menchaca then took the floor for a keynote speech during which he set the tone for the event. He pointed out that “we are on the cusp of a new era in transportation” and urging audiences to participate in “a complete rethink of our engineering processes, supply chains, and regulatory standards.” 

Other speakers built on these arguments – and set out their visions for this complete rethink – during the two panel sessions ‘Determination in Action: Accelerating the Uptake of Sustainable Transport Solutions’ and ‘From Policy to Action: Leveraging the Power of Consumer Voices’. 

In the first panel session, after an introduction by FIA Social Responsibility Manager Barbara Silva, FIA Formula E World Champion and UNEP Ambassador and Zero Summit Co-Founder Lucas di Grassi, Head of Japan Automotive Manufacturing Association (JAMA) delegate to COP28 Takao Aiba, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at KAUST University Dr. James Turner gathered to discuss sustainable technology development. 

Lucas di Grassi highlighted the importance of transferring sustainability learnings from the track to the road. He said: “In my career, I have witnessed a rapid transformation in powertrain technologies. Motor sport has always been a catalyst for technological development, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and eventually transferring these advancements to consumer vehicles.”

Takao Aiba agreed, and suggested that brands should also work together to accelerate the green transition. He noted: “Our journey in developing hydrogen technology is not solitary. We are seeing increasing interest and participation from various companies, indicating a growing collective commitment to sustainable automotive technology. This rapid development spearheaded by motor sport is paving the way for broader technological advancements.”

Dr. James Turner warned that: “The path to sustainability is not straightforward. It involves a comprehensive approach, considering lifecycle analysis to achieve true tech neutrality. While electric and hybrid technologies are vital, they should not overshadow the potential of e-fuels and biofuels in our quest for a sustainable future.”

During the second panel session introduced by FIA Sustainability Manager Asuka Ito, FIA Mobility Policy Commission President and Vice President Public Affairs of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) Ian Jack, Sustainable Mobility Unit Head, Industry and Economy Division at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Rob De Jong and Chief Business Officer and Deputy CEO at Greater Than Johanna Forseke spoke about the importance of consumer contributions to this sustainable transition.

Ian Jack emphasised the fact that “This is a global challenge that calls for a unified response. By pooling our resources, knowledge, and expertise, we can accelerate the development of sustainable transport solutions that are both efficient and accessible to all.”

Rob De Jong agreed. He urged audiences to take a more exploratory approach to ensure our success, rather than focusing on existing or accepted solutions, saying: “We must look beyond traditional methods and embrace a range of solutions, from electrification to alternative fuels, to effectively combat the looming threat of climate change.”

But Johanna Forseke cautioned that this kind of bold progress would require strong leadership. She noted: “To achieve meaningful change, we need leaders who are committed to sustainability. Their vision and determination will be pivotal in driving the sector towards a more eco-friendly and responsible future.”

Audiences then heard from Ethara CEO Saif Al Noami who spoke about his vision for a sustainable future, inspired by creativity and innovation. During an engaging session, he argued that: “In the quest for a sustainable transport future, innovation and adaptation are key. Our goal should be to create a system that not only reduces emissions but also enhances the efficiency and accessibility of transport for everyone.”

FIA Environment and Sustainability Commission President Felipe Calderón concluded the session. He pointed out that: “We are standing at a crossroads where our decisions today will define the trajectory of our planet’s health and our economic resilience.”

Drive Change Today – FIA Smart Driving Challenge for COP28

The Drive Change Today challenge, building on the success of the existing FIA Smart Driving Challenge programme, was designed to allow people from around the world to reduce their emissions and energy consumption and make their mark on COP28 during the conference fortnight.

The FIA, with the support of FIA Member the Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO), also invited 10,000 cars from fleets in the UAE to take part.

The FIA Smart Driving Challenge and Drive Change Today were promoted at the FIA stand in the COP28 UNFCCC-managed site (Blue Zone), only open to party delegations, Heads of State and admitted observers.

Data from the programme was collected, scored and analysed by FIA’s partner Greater Than. Overall, drivers taking part in the challenge saw an average CO2 or battery usage saving of 9.7% – with the three top participants saving 35%.

You can read more about the challenge here.

Promoting the ISO Net Zero Guidelines

The FIA was among the first organisations to adopt the International Standards Organisation (ISO) Net Zero Guidelines to refine its decarbonisation strategy. 

As such, it was invited by the British Standard Institution (BSI group) to share its experience on their Blue Zone stand and as part of a panel discussion hosted by Reuters. 

Commenting on the adoption of the Guidelines, FIA CEO Natalie Robyn said: “Back in 2020, we set ourselves ambitious targets to reach net zero by 2030. As an international federation, it is extremely important for us to adhere to recognised global standards and best practices. That is why we chose to adopt the ISO Net Zero Guidelines in 2023. This tool greatly helped us identify the areas for improvement in our strategy and we are now able to move forward with a high-integrity approach.”

Speaking on the panel hosted by Reuters, FIA Social Responsibility Manager Barbara Silva  said: “When we developed our [original] strategy back in 2019, there was no consensus of what net zero meant or how to get there. When the Guidelines were released, we were immediately interested because they bring a detailed roadmap on how to reach net zero, crucial definitions and concrete actions on how to reduce your Scope 2 and 3 emissions.”

You can watch the related videos and read more about our use of the ISO Net Zero Guidelines here.

Joining forces with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Senseable City Lab

During COP28, the FIA announced it has joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Senseable City Lab to research improved sustainable mobility patterns in the UAE to reduce the carbon footprint of major events in the country.

Researchers working on the project as part of the MIT Senseable Dubai Lab will gather data to build a picture of city-wide mobility patterns around major UAE events, including the FIA Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This data could then be used to suggest improvements to local mobility planning, including traffic management and public transport, ultimately reducing congestion and carbon emissions during these events.

FIA Sustainable Mobility Manager Asuka Ito spoke about the project along with MIT’s Senseable City Lab representatives at the Dubai Future Forum ahead of COP28. 

You can read more about the research project here.

Sharing the Motor Sport and Mobility Perspective to Accelerate a Just Transition

At COP28, the FIA launched its White Paper titled ‘Accelerating a Just Transition: The Motor Sport and Mobility Perspective’. 

The White Paper highlighting the environmental initiatives of the FIA and its Members in the field of motor sport and mobility. It explores a wide variety of cutting-edge sustainable technology solutions for mobility and motor sport. Key topics include sustainable fuels, the future of powertrains and infrastructure, consumer engagement, as well as shared knowledge and innovation transfer between track and road.

These insights are grounded in several case studies from the Federation’s Member Clubs, which have played a key role in driving or testing sustainability initiatives, and are now experts within their respective regions. 

You can read more about the White Paper here.

Source : Fia