In defence of the Rali Bae Ceredigion, Phil Hughes attempts to convince us that motorsport is good for the environment.
His claims that the motorsport industry leads the way in tackling the problems of carbon emissions from private car use ring very hollow indeed.
Presumably he refers to modifications made to Formula One cars in order to shave milliseconds off their times on the racetracks of the world. Those modifications then trickle slowly down to the private car, and then on to rally cars which are – by definition – modified saloon cars.
On the other side of the argument until very recently the massive investment that the car and fossil fuel industries have in the internal combustion engine actually prevented research into alternative modes of private transport. So, on balance, I think we can largely dismiss his claims.
Shuttle buses, claimed in the letter as being emission-reducing measures, were actually to enable spectators to reach remote viewing locations on narrow roads with no parking.
It is good to hear that steps were taken to promote recycling at the event. It is the least that could be done. But this is really tinkering at the edges of an event whose only lasting result is to add further greenhouse gasses to those already being pumped massively into the atmosphere.
Have organisers attempted to calculate the rally’s carbon footprint? One conservative estimate we have made is that the rally created a total of something like 30,000 car miles.
This includes both the mileage on the day and that involved in journeys to north Ceredigion from far and wide.
Something like 12,000kg of CO2 were emitted by spectators, officials and drivers.
Trees emit oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. The number of young trees that would need to be planted to absorb 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide is roughly 2,400.
According to Coed Cymru figures, 650 mixed deciduous trees can be planted on an acre of land.
For the sake of argument we can conclude that roughly four acres of land would need to be planted with young broadleaves to absorb the carbon emissions created by the rally.
Will the rally organisers stand up and be counted on this issue?
Whichever way you look at it, as a means of personal transport, cars with petrol and diesel engines are on the way out. They are 20th century technology, and the car industry now belatedly understands this, judging by the number of new electric and hybrid models being introduced.
In order to make Britain carbon-neutral by 2025, as Extinction Rebellion believes is necessary, we desperately need to cut carbon emissions in as many aspects of our lives as possible, and we all need to make sacrifices.
That includes motorsport enthusiasts.
What of the rally in future years? We challenge its organisers, sponsors and supporters to look to the future and not the past.
Any repeat of this year’s rally should be for electric cars only.
Yours etc, Jeremy Moore, Extinction Rebellion.
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