Following on from Energy Transition Day at COP28, SailGP’s Transition & Innovation Manager Tom Verity reflects on decarbonisation and the league’s role in it.

The time for action is now.

To limit global temperatures to the 1.5 degree warming trajectory, we have already used 85 percent of our global carbon budget. We need more than just those at COP28 to think seriously about how we limit spending on that remaining 15 percent.

Season 4 // SailGP Transition & Innovation Manager Tom Verity

After a busy first day for me at COP28 on ‘Energy Transition Day’ I am, though, left feeling fully energized that there is indeed a transition in the narrative towards optimism and action in the monumental decarbonization challenge facing our times.

Following deep discussions on Direct Air Capture, the role of Nuclear and technical solutions for carbon trading projects, it was the focus on decarbonization and the future of the maritime industry which left me most excited. Shipping is a heavy and critical industry that currently moves 80 percent of goods globally.

It’s an industry that has been late to align to science-based target scenarios, but COP28 yesterday offered hope for the future of this historically risk-averse industry. It relies on a phased and flexible approach to low carbon fuels. It’s true that we simply don’t have enough sustainably produced biodiesel to meet the International Maritime Organization’s 2030 carbon targets.

Season 4 // View from behind the coaches' desk in Cadiz

It’s also true that there are fugitive emissions issues with the use of biomethane and liquified natural gas as alternative shipping fuels. However a phased approach to the emerging fuel markets of methanol and ammonia, with the flexibility of dual-fuel capability in applications has the potential to majorly kickstart decarbonisation progress in this sector.

How does this translate to SailGP? Well, this is exactly the approach that we are adopting in our own carbon challenge.

As a global sport we’re working closely with our partner Kuehne+Nagel to phase in sustainable fuels into our logistics where possible, reducing our logistics carbon footprint in Season 3 by 69 percent.

Our Cadiz event in October presented a major milestone with the phasing in of renewable gasoline across the entirety of our event support fleet.

Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucia - Cadiz | Season 4 | Spain | Fans

We are also continuing to phase in emerging sustainable propulsion into this fleet, while phasing in emerging power generation technology on-shore through our power provider Aggreko.

In Dubai this weekend, which marks the first of many Race For The Future takeovers, we’ll have the largest temporary solar array ever installed at a sporting event.

With low carbon technologies bound geographically, we have to be flexible in a multi-technology approach to our event delivery and also flexible to operate our event in new ways.

Season 4 // Solar panels in Dubai

We’ve redesigned a remote delivery of on-water operations, enabled through technology, removing boats from the water and significant carbon emissions in the process.

We are prioritizing fuel flexibility in our on-site power generators, and also designing this flexibility into the future of sustainable support boats for the league; to ensure that fuel availability does not restrict our ability to operate sustainably across all of our events globally.

Phasing. Flexibility. Two small but extremely key words to ensuring a brighter future.

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