Climate action
The Imagine Better Series

What is net zero? With Formula One and Sky

Formula One and Sky share industry insights on what net zero is and how to reach it

03.04.20Aisha Ayoade

On Thursday 2nd April 2020, Futerra’s clients and partner organisations joined us for our inaugural webinar of The Imagine Better Series, and what a way to start! Futerra’s Co-Founder, Solitaire Townsend, virtually hosted two beloved Futerra clients – Fiona Ball, Director of The Bigger Picture at Sky, and Yath Gangakumaran, Director of Strategy and Business Development of Formula One – in a Q&A session on Going Net Zero. The last 12 months have been huge for both F1 and Sky with their organisations announcing ambitious commitments to become net zero by 2030. This digital event gave the mic to all of those with burning questions around what net zero is, how companies like F1 and Sky are speaking to this new standard in their unique way, and the key decisions they’ve had to make so far on their respective journeys to reaching net zero.

Here’s are some of our key highlights.

Making sense of ‘Net Zero’

What specifically does net zero mean to you?

The semantic soup of net zero, zero, carbon negative, carbon positive, carbon neutrality can be confusing. With this plethora of seemingly similar terms being bandied around, we asked F1 and Sky why they chose net zero and what it means for them.
For F1, it means a 50% absolute reduction in carbon emissions using a roadmap to get there: they recognise that they won’t get an 100% absolute reduction in carbon emissions as they will always want to go to their fans and move around the world. Their sustainability strategy is aggressive yet credible in outlining how the remaining 50% of emissions will be offset by using breakthrough F1 technology to create carbon sequestration.
For Sky, net zero means looking across whole value chain – Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. As a broadcaster their direct carbon footprint (scope 1 and 2 emissions) are low, but they have a huge impact indirectly (scope 3). All three footprints are considered in Sky’s net zero target and ‘Sky Zero’ ambition, with targets set across all them.

Innovate and collaborate

What is key to realising your net zero ambitions?

Innovation is in F1’s DNA. As previously mentioned, the organization are already looking at what their technologies can do to sequester 50% of the emissions they can’t cut. What the F1 Mercedes’s team have shown recently (in using their resources to develop and provide breathing aids to the COVID-19 crisis) is that they have the brainpower to create ground-breaking tech at pace. Later in the 2020s this will be key to finding solutions to the climate crisis. Whilst Sky are similarly looking at negative emission technologies, Fiona also talked about the natural solutions that Sky is investigating with its partners such as Natural Capital Partners. With the support of such partnerships, Sky has both the influence and resources to conduct big pilot studies, such as its ambitious Project Seagrass.

Innovation goes hand in hand with collaboration. Sky’s fruitful partnership with WWF has been key to helping Sky engage with NGOs, policymakers, customers, viewers and employees. Their Rainforest and Ocean Rescue campaigns have engaged nearly 50 million people. F1 has found similar success in their partnerships which have been pivotal to stretching the organisation’s sustainability vision. While they work hard to get key stakeholders on board, some of their partners, most notably Heineken and Pirelli, push their ambition further still.

Be positive, practical and persevere

What would their advice be for others at the start of their net-zero journey?

A positive mindset was key. According to Yath, ‘if you go in with the mindset of “these are the benefits that need to come out of our efforts” …then you have more of a chance of changing others’ mindsets’.

Look to your past successes. The learnings gained from The Bigger Picture at Sky’s previous efforts, such as the Ocean Rescue campaign, were vital in showing them that business has huge potential to transform how it engages and mobilises its supply chain.

Be bold in your ambition but also be practical. As Fiona deftly points out, it’s not possible for everyone to reach net zero by 2030. What’s important is understanding where one’s opportunity for the most material impact lies and running with it. ‘Be ambitious, but don’t sell yourself short’.

The last magic ingredient? It’s perseverance. As Yath concluded: ‘so many opportunities come out of being on the right side of history’.

Watch the The Imagine Better Series: Going Net Zero webinar

A huge thank you to Fiona Ball, Director of The Bigger Picture at Sky, and Yath Gangakumaran, Director of Strategy and Business Development of Formula 1, for their participation and partnership, as well as to the attendees for their probing and inspiring questions.

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