We have been in the Dakar Rally, the hardest motor race in the world, talking about environmental sustainability, but...
If you ask me if the Dakar is a sustainable event, I will answer NO. Not only because of the huge consumption of fossil fuels, but also by the impact it has for the territory..
But maybe are sustainable sustainable activities: ski? (that seems so normal in our society), industries? (which manufacture most products we consume), transport? (which we use daily), roads & infrastructures (that open significant scarring in our territory), travelling? (millions tourist&business trips around the world), etc, etc, etc ....
Almost any activity we do has a major impact on the environment, atmosphere, climate or resources we extract from the earth. And we should note that land and the natural resources are not unlimited. And although it is permissible to use them for the welfare and development of human life, we must manage them with a high level of responsibility in order to minimize our impact and maximize regeneration.
If there is an earthquake in Haiti and we have to save thousands of lives, it does not matter the resources we use, the pollution we produce or our environmental impact. We must first save human lives.
But when we talk about to industrial, sport, tourist or consumption, usually we are talking about something not directly essential to human life. And here we must use our conscience and responsibility in order to manage all resources with respect and commitment to nature.
I prefer not having ski resources in our mountains, but I understand that we can decide having them, using our territory, because we decide paying an environmental price for developing the commercial or tourist activity in the area , and as a result those business can pay taxes, which are what finally funded our schools, hospitals and other public services. But we cannot let those activities grow up and develop without an strict control, because we are creating economic activity, but also the natural environment as part of our natural heritage.
The Dakar is quite the same. Some would prefer not to realize this event and others want to do it; but each country is free to use its territory at his convenience, but it must be done with a high level of control, fighting for the minimum impact, and only if this sacrifice really contributes to the welfare and future of the local and/or international community.
And if beyond this, you ask me if our team is sustainable, I will also answer NO.
It is 100% sustainable the car in terms of emissions produced (full electric), but it has not been totally sustainable in the construction process, nor is all logistics support we carry (2 trucks, 2 4WD vehicles, battery charging system, etc.) Furthermore, I promise I have not gone swimming to South America.
We have been much more sustainable than any other team in the Dakar, and also we have a program to compensate all the CO2 emissions in the whole project, but we are far from being pure and perfect. Therefore, we do not intend to be the perfect example team regarding the environmental aspect, but we are at the forefront of commitment to sustainability within the world of motorsport in general and specifically in the Dakar Rally.
When Greenpeace goes to the Arctic to do a campaign against climate change and the melting of the polar ice cap, travels in a boat with diesel engines; but it is a necessary toll to fight for a higher cause. And we came to Dakar Rally paying the toll of some unsustainability, in order to use it as a platform to defend, disclose, discuss and commit to a higher cause, which aims simply to say that we cannot do things always equal and that the races and innovation must be at the service of society and the environment, and not vice versa.
With our project, we wanted to create a small step ahead for a reflection on how we have to do this particular event and the motor racing in general, with the intention of tending to be more efficient and less damaging to the environment. Motor sport should be more than just a show or an activity where few drivers have a good time running. It should be a testing and development lab of technology in the service of society. And now what society needs most is not more speed and more power and more noise and more fuel; but rather, needs to find much less aggressive and contaminant ways of transport. This is one of the great challenges we face in the future in the short and medium term, and from the racing world can neither hide nor deny or evade our responsibility as a technology development activity, or as a platform for values transmission.
For the health of the environment this will be crucial. For the future of society will be essential. And for the continuity of motor races in general and specifically the Dakar, it will be also a key point, to move quickly towards much higher level of sustainability.