Extreme E reveals how it hit its most important goal

Extreme E's trying to prove motorsport can be good for the environment. It's released new data showing how it's achieving that

Jutta Kleinschmidt (GER)/Mattias Ekstrom (SWE), ABT CUPRA XE

Extreme E has published its inaugural sustainability report, detailing how the climate-conscious series has impacted the environment throughout its first season.

The all-electric series is one of just two motorsport categories to publish such a report and is the only one worldwide to have achieved net zero carbon emissions over the last year.

In its push to lead the way with green motorsport, Extreme E has involved an independent scientific committee to advise it on how to conduct all of its activities, both sporting and otherwise, in the best possible way.


While Extreme E hasn’t yet established a total zero output when it comes to CO2 emissions, due to its infancy and emergence of appropriate technology, the series has been designed to have the smallest possible carbon footprint.

It also offsets its output using VSC (Verified Carbon Standard) approved methods, which includes contributing to the development of a wind farm in Patagonia, widely regarded as one of the windiest locations on earth.

Breaking down the key contributors to its overall CO2 output in the report, Extreme E reveals that operations and staff travel account for a combined 12.4% of the series’ total CO2 output.

This is helped in-part by the fact that the series’ broadcasts are handled remotely from London, negating the need for the entire production team to travel, while teams themselves are limited to just seven people on the ground (including both drivers) once again cutting down on the need for people to be travelling to events.

Cristina Gutierrez (ESP)/Sebastien Loeb (FRA), X44

While some VIPs and invited guests do attend events on occasion, they account for the smallest percentage of Extreme E’s total CO2 output (0.2%). Spectators in general aren’t permitted to attend, the championship instead pushing a digital-first approach to fan engagement.

The cars – with bodywork made from natural fibers, tires made from recycled materials, and charging handled by hydrogen fuel cells (auxiliary paddock power coming from hydrogenated vegetable oil and upcycled second-life batteries) – account for 4% of Extreme E’s total CO2 output.

Transporting the series across the world however, remains something of a sticking point.

Extreme E forgoes traditional air freight, instead shipping everything by sea on the refitted former postal ship, the St. Helena, which is currently powered by low sulfur diesel. Freight accounts for 82% of Extreme E’s total carbon footprint – but its choice to go via sea rather than air still represents a marked improvement on the flying alternative, with that said to put out 5,200 tCO2e more.

The St Helena logistics ship

As well as the more environmentally friendly fuel alternative (which is set to be replaced by greener power in future seasons once a viable solution has been realized), other adjustments to the ship to cut down on its environmental impact include reduced friction exterior paintwork and propellers, low energy light fittings and low water consumption bathroom fittings, furniture made from recycled plastics, and a 20 square-foot science lab in place of the ship’s former swimming pool to allow it to double up as a research ship as well as a key logistics tool.

The report also serves as a reminder of the Legacy programs Extreme E works on as part of every event, with these programs ensuring that each round delivers a positive impact to the areas it visits, beyond just creating a sporting spectacle.

Nine Legacy programs were implemented in 2021, including two in Saudi Arabia, Senegal, and Greenland, while late additions to the schedule Italy and the UK also benefited from Extreme E environmental initiatives.

Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky (SWE), JBXE Extreme-E Team, on the Russell Glacier

Even Brazil, which was cut from the calendar late-on as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (and replaced by Italy), was aided by Extreme E’s involvement, with an Amazon conservation project being the focus of Brazil’s land based legacy initiative.

Extreme E’s second season is set to commence in Saudi Arabia next weekend (February 19-20), with the opening round moving from Al-‘Ula to Neom, a developing ‘smart city’ that, like Extreme E, is set to depend on completely renewable energy sources.

In keeping with the low carbon footprint ideals of the series, Extreme E travelled directly from the 2021 season finale in Dorset in the south of England in mid-December to the Red Sea coast, hence the meagre winter break for the series.

Words:Dominik Wilde

Photography:Extreme E