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COP26 – Extreme E: Less hype, more help

COP26 – Extreme E: Less hype, more help

As the COP26 summit enters its final lap, the topic of discussion turns to cities, regions, and built environments, essentially the places where we live. The real question, though, is what happens next? What tangible changes will occur because of the past two weeks of debate?  

One of the pre-event news items surrounded the UK government’s pledge to invest £1million in a proposed round of the Extreme E series on the Outer Hebrides islands in 2022. The news was welcomed by Extreme E, which exists to highlight conservation challenges in some of the world’s most remote environments. 

The event will “allow the conversation on electric mobility and the climate emergency to continue further, inspiring action and highlighting various solutions and mitigation strategies”, according to Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E. 

There are arguments that COP26 might be all talk and no action. What Extreme E has tried to do, with its unique proposition, is to bridge the gap between motorsport and environmental concerns, and to leave a legacy of action.  

The five-event global voyage utilises its sporting platform to promote electrification, the environment, and equality. Not only is it trying to pave the way for a lower carbon future, but it provides the world’s first gender-equal motorsport platform.  

Aside from the racing, Extreme E undertakes extensive work before and after the event in each location, collaborating with local organisations to support and educate people on the climate change challenge. The entire Extreme E teamwork to leave each race without a trace. In addition, each X Prix has its own legacy project, which intends to leave a long-lasting positive impact on the location.  

To further minimise impact to the local environments, Extreme E races are not open to spectators. Instead, fans follow the action through TV action and social feeds. Each team is also limited to eight people – two drivers, one engineer, and five mechanics.  

But what are the five-race locations, and why were they chosen for this season? Here’s the lowdown:

Saudi Arabia (Desert X Prix) – Desertification, plastic pollution.

Senegal (Ocean X Prix) – Rising sea levels, plastic pollution.

Greenland (Arctic X Prix) – Melting ice caps, the disappearance of arctic ice, and rising sea levels.

Italy (Island X Prix) – Rising temperatures leading to extreme weather conditions and wildfires.

United Kingdom (Jurassic X Prix) – Raise awareness of the British Army’s sustainable strategy (mitigate environmental impact while maintaining military output by reducing emissions and relying on electric vehicles).

As with many championships this year, Extreme E has been hit with scheduling changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK was not initially scheduled to feature this season but has since been added to replace the final X Prix of the season, which was due to take place in Argentina.  

The Dorset coast, which as recently as yesterday saw another sizeable rockfall at the picturesque West Bay, will host the Jurassic X Prix at the Bovington army base on 18-19 December.  

“I’m very excited by this race location – our first event on UK soil,” said Alejandro Agag. “This move is a poignant shift in our mission to race in remote, far-away places to highlight the effects of climate change, as more increasingly, the issues we talk about are literally happening in our backyards, so it felt like the right time to bring the spotlight home, and help the army reduce its own carbon footprint.” 

While the series is full of speed and excitement, most importantly, it tries to reverse the impact these events have wherever they take place. With a net-zero commitment, it’s clear to see that Extreme E hasn’t been created for the hype; but instead has the ability to make and inspire change with its actions both on and off the track.