From electric dreams to supercharged reality: the road race to a clean energy future

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The planetary Formula E electrical contention series, a spouse with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP),  has grown successful popularity since it launched immoderate 7 years ago, attracting the attraction of large car manufacturers, changing people’s perceptions of electrical vehicles, and bringing the satellite 1 measurement person to a sustainable transport future.

Transport is believed to beryllium liable for astir a 4th of each greenhouse state emissions, and combustion engines are a large origin of mediocre aerial prime successful municipality areas, which is simply a origin successful asthma and different respiratory diseases.

Despite being astir for galore years, electrical vehicles stay a tiny portion of the wide car market. However, with increasing interest astir clime change, and immoderate eye-catching commitments from governments and car manufacturers, which see plans to prohibition oregon extremity the accumulation of combustion engines wrong the adjacent fewer decades, that could beryllium astir to change. 

Formula E is truthful acold the lone athletics to beryllium certified nett zero c since its inception, and those associated with the title are committed to combatting the clime situation by accelerating the adoption to electrical vehicles. 

In July, Conor Lennon from UN News spoke to Julia Pallé, Formula E’s Sustainability Director, and Lucas di Grassi, who won the championship’s archetypal ever contention backmost successful 2014, and is simply a cleanable aerial advocator for the UN. They discussed the maturation of electrical car racing, and wherefore it tin assistance person the wide nationalist to springiness up combustion engines.

Formula E car   astatine  the 2021 New York contention    successful  Red Hook, Brookyln.

UN/Joon Park

Formula E car astatine the 2021 New York contention successful Red Hook, Brookyln.

Julia Pallé: Formula E was built with sustainability successful its DNA, and it is portion of the crushed that teams, drivers, and partners articulation us. Everyone is progressive successful pushing electrical vehicles to the wide market.
We are utilizing the title arsenic a level to beforehand the electrification of transport by showcasing a scope of products and services that are contributing to the instauration of a debased c economy.

Lucas di Grassi: I joined Formula E backmost successful 2012, and I was the 3rd employee. I had already driven an electrical car, and I was precise funny successful the technology. 

I deliberation that the nationalist understands that sustainability is not a choice. There are excessively galore radical consuming excessively much, and we request to amended everyone’s prime of beingness sustainably, without damaging the satellite for aboriginal generations. 

Electric vehicles are a portion of that, and Formula E is astatine the halfway of the transition, successful presumption of probe and development, and besides changing people’s cognition of electrical vehicles, which has changed massively implicit the past 5 years.

Lucas di Grassi, Formula E operator  for the Audi team, astatine  the 2021 New York contention    successful  Red Hook, Brookyln.

UN/Joon Park

Lucas di Grassi, Formula E operator for the Audi team, astatine the 2021 New York contention successful Red Hook, Brookyln.

Overcoming a absorption to change

Conor Lennon: Did you brushwood immoderate scepticism successful the aboriginal days of the competition?

Lucas di Grassi: Yes, particularly successful the centrifugal athletics world, wherever radical are precise nostalgic. First of all, radical laughed astir the project, they thought it was a joke. Then they criticised the cars for being slow, for not making immoderate noise, and due to the fact that we would person to alteration cars during the races. Then they started to instrumentality it seriously, and a fewer years aboriginal they each wanted to articulation the series!

The celebrated American physicist Richard Feynman erstwhile said that you measurement quality by people’s quality to accommodate oregon to recognize alteration without getting offended. Formula E is simply a bully example: I grew up loving combustion motor cars, but it is wide that we person to spell electric. The centrifugal sports satellite didn’t agree, but a ample proportionality of radical present recognize that electrical vehicles tin beryllium breathtaking and fun.

Julia Pallé: There was a batch of scepticism and a reluctance to change. We person seen galore victories on the way. From finishing the archetypal season, to much and much partners joining us, and present we are the satellite title with the biggest line-up of car manufacturers!
We person besides seen galore caller electrical racing bid pursuing our example, and this is the biggest grounds that we opened up the way, and showed that electrical conveyance races are highly attractive. 

Concentrating connected the low-hanging fruit

Lucas di Grassi: we person to retrieve that electrical mobility is not conscionable astir rider cars. It ranges from e-bikes, scooters, mopeds, and motorbikes, to cars, vans, trucks, and buses.

However, smaller vehicles are overmuch easier to electrify than trucks travelling agelong distances, oregon planes. Large freight ships can’t conscionable spell electric, and adjacent if we were to power to a exertion specified arsenic hydrogen oregon atomic power, the outgo of transporting the goods would beryllium overmuch higher.

So we request to ore connected the low-hanging effect first, specified arsenic e-bikes and cars. That’s wherefore I created the world’s archetypal electrical scooter championship. These are not regular scooters, they are precise fast, and tin scope up to 120 kilometres per hour. Another important improvement successful the maturation of sustainable transport is autonomous driving, which is overmuch much efficient, and successful 2015 I joined Roborace, the archetypal planetary title for autonomously driven, electrically powered vehicles

A squad  of cyclists connected  electrical  bikes ends a 600 km thrust   astatine  the COP24 Climate Change league  (file)

UNFCCC Secretariat

A squad of cyclists connected electrical bikes ends a 600 km thrust astatine the COP24 Climate Change league (file)

An electrical contention against time

Conor Lennon: it seems that you’re taking a twin-track attack with Formula E, testing, and processing a fast-evolving technology, and raising awareness. But there’s a contention against time, due to the fact that the fig of radical who privation to usage cars is accelerated rising, and we person to amusement that is imaginable to massively standard up electrical proscription to conscionable that demand.

Julia Pallé: It is wide to each of us, from professionals, to those moving with the UN, and the wide public, that we person 9 years to chopped emissions by immoderate 50 per cent successful bid to scope our clime enactment goals. To bash this we person to alteration the mode we unrecorded and, astatine an idiosyncratic level, the biggest interaction we tin person is successful the mode that we travel.

What we are trying to bash is to connection factual solutions: we are backed by galore car manufacturers who are processing exertion successful Formula E that is utilized to amended the cars, which yet benefits consumers.

We are besides a showcase, giving a sensation of what a aboriginal sustainable manner tin look like: offering plant-based nutrient options, banning single-use plastics. So, it’s not astir compromising, oregon giving up things we like, but doing things successful a different, enhanced way.

This treatment is adapted from an SDG Media Zone video, portion of a bid produced for the 2021 High Level Political Forum, the largest yearly gathering connected advancement connected the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
 

The UN and Sustainable Transport

  • The United Nations is playing a portion successful this coming modulation towards cleanable energy, bringing unneurotic large players successful the manufacture astatine the Sustainable Transport Conference, which takes spot successful Beijing this October.
  • This year’s league volition absorption connected however to program and make transport systems that boost economical growth, trim inequalities, and amended the situation for everyone.
  • The programme volition bespeak the diverseness and complexity of the transport assemblage and volition supply an accidental for argumentation dialog arsenic good arsenic forging partnerships and initiatives to beforehand sustainable transport.
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