8 December 2022

GreenAir News

Reporting on aviation and the environment

Mercedes F1 motor racing team in multi-million-dollar SAF investment to reduce its aviation carbon footprint

The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS FI motor racing team is the latest corporate to announce a commitment to investing in sustainable aviation fuel in efforts reduce its Scope 3 aviation carbon footprint. The sports industry is one of the biggest users of aviation and as the first global sports team to do so, the investment will support the growth of SAF’s availability and the market transition towards net zero, said Mercedes F1. The purchase of SAF will be used to compensate for the team’s indirect Scope 3 aviation emissions from flights to Grand Prix locations and other business air travel, which are excluded from the Formula One cost cap, and would, it said, be a key pillar of a commitment to achieve a 50% reduction of Scope 3 emissions by 2026 and to reach net zero by 2030. With sustainable fuels expected to account for up to 37% of energy demand in transport by 2050, Mercedes F1 said its “powerful global platform to support the development and growth of the SAF market will showcase SAF’s potential to other industries.” A spokesperson for the team told GreenAir it was in the final stages of negotiating a contract with a SAF partner and discussions were ongoing with other potential partners.

Mercedes F1 said aviation accounted for over a quarter of its entire projected carbon footprint, and its “multi-million-dollar” SAF investment “would significantly improve our overall environmental impact, with the industry-leading technology further assisting our journey towards net zero. SAF will become a significant component of our team’s sustainability strategy, reflecting our desire to drive the change within Formula One for more sustainable racing.”

Explained Alice Ashpitel, Sustainability & Environmental Manager: “Our aim is to embed sustainability in every decision we make and action we take. We believe SAF can change the way that sports and businesses more generally, as some of the biggest users of aviation, can exert a positive influence on the outside world.”

By purchasing SAF claims, Mercedes expects to achieve close to a 50% reduction in the air travel footprint of its race team personnel, with the remaining aviation carbon emissions offset through Gold Standard climate projects “whilst we work with the industry to scale SAF availability,” it said.

The team’s operations have been carbon neutral since 2020 through using offsets provided by MyClimate that support wind and solar projects in Turkey and the Dominican Republic. Claiming to be the first sports team to commit to setting a Science-Based Target and SBTi Net Zero Standard in November 2021, the Mercedes F1 team achieved a 98% reduction in its Scope 1 and 2 footprint between 2018 and 2021, and has exceeded its 50% emissions reduction target in Scope 1, 2 and partial Scope 3 (by 2022 from a 2018 baseline), with a 58% emissions reduction by 2021.

It is aiming to publish its second annual sustainability report in August, containing information on the team’s achievements, commitments and its strategy to reach SBTi-verified net zero.

“SAF has the potential to transform the way we travel and the impact that we have on the environment,” commented Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team. “This is a topic that I think about a great deal personally as well as professionally. I fly a lot; the team flies a lot. If we must fly, then we need to find a better way to do so and SAF is the best solution available to the aviation industry right now. We aim to be on the cutting edge of change, using our global motorsport platform as a model for a more sustainable and diversified future.”

Team partner Petronas, Malaysia’s national oil and gas company, is involved in a joint initiative with Kuala Lumpur International Airport to increase the supply of SAF to airlines at the airport and has supplied SAF to Malaysia Airlines for two recent flights (see article).

Image: Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1