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Williams pledge to be carbon positive by 2030

October 14, 2021

The Williams Formula 1 Team is the latest organisation to rise to the challenge of environmental sustainability by becoming the first F1 team to sign up to the United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework, and pledging to be carbon positive within the next decade.

Carbon positive is the process whereby an organisation takes out more carbon from the atmosphere than it adds (typically by burning things for fuel, or consuming things that have used fuels in their manufacture or distribution).

Williams, like all Formula 1 teams, are in a great position to be able to develop cutting edge technology that can help environmental sustainability, and have already put this into practice by using F1 developed aerodynamic theory to reduce the energy consumption of supermarket fridges. (Don’t ask me how – it’s way over my head!)

It’s long been accepter that in times of war, the development of technology is accelerated in order to meet specific needs that could lead to the winning/ending of the war. And Formula 1 is similar in a way – these teams will stop at nothing to win, they have the brightest and the best engineering brains in the world and they have stupidly big budgets.

So it makes sense that it’s applied for good in the world outside Formula 1 (is there one?!)

I mean, obviously, part of the reason behind the announcement will be to generate a lovely fuzzy feeling among those reading it, to cover off one of the 21st century’s hottest potatoes, and with it Williams gets a bit of positive press and a nice little bit of social traction. And that part of it makes me feel a little bit icky.

This is the sort of thing industry should be doing all of the time, and not just when they can get some sort of fanfare for announcing it.

And I’m not quite sure why 2030 seems to be the target. Can’t it be sooner? It might not be as packed with keywords to say ‘Williams are and will continue to do everything to be as environmentally friendly as possible’ (and mean it), but it would probably mean as much, if not more.

2030 is a long way away and a great deal can change between now and then.

And it could feasibly come to pass that these guys (everyone – not just Williams) making pledges about a target so far off could have nine years repeating the mantra ‘we have pledged to be carbon positive by 2030’, getting their little green sticker and a pat on the back, and then in 2030 admitting ‘We have fallen short of the very ambitious carbon targets we set for ourselves. BUT WE REMAIN COMMITTED TO DOING EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER TO YADA YADA YADA…”

I’d much rather see more made of what F1 is already doing from a technological/engineering POV (of which there is much) to contribute to the world’s quest for environmental sustainability, than these photo opportunities.

Because we’re going to have to engineer our way out of this. We’re not going to save the planet with promises.


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