UCI cuts organisational emissions by 20%, according to first sustainability report

Cycling’s governing body also reveals revised sustainability plan with 29 strategic objectives and 84 action points

Clock12:06, Thursday 26th October 2023
The UCI has outlined its revised sustainability plan

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

The UCI has outlined its revised sustainability plan

The UCI has achieved 19 of its initial 28 time-bound sustainability goals, according to its first ever sustainability report published on Wednesday.

Having joined the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework in 2020, the UCI unveiled its sustainability strategy in June 2021, along with 28 targets.

One of those was to start publishing updates on its sustainability progress, which it has achieved through this report. More notably, the UCI has cut its organisational emissions by 20% with an overall target of 50% by 2030 and net zero by 2040.

A new way of measuring emissions at races has also been achieved through the UCI Sustainability Tracker, which debuted at the Glasgow World Championships in 2023, although the results haven’t yet been released.

Most of the objectives had deadlines and while some are still ongoing, the proposed target for others has passed, including a failure to set waste reduction targets or to establish a UCI Equality, Diversity and Inclusion taskforce by 2022.

“The UCI Sustainability Report 2021-2023 transparently communicates our progress so far and acknowledges the challenges we still face,” UCI president David Lappartient said in a press release.

As well as reflecting on previous targets, the report also outlines the UCI’s future sustainability plan which has been revised to 29 strategic objectives and 84 action points.

These objectives are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and are split under four different umbrellas: climate action, nature, people, and cycling for all.

New focus on reducing carbon footprint at races

Previously, the original objectives were focussed more on the UCI’s carbon footprint and how it could integrate sustainability into its decision making and education processes, but the revised goals have a more direct impact on professional races.

Cycling is lacking studies on the topic compared to other sports, but in 2022 the Tour of Luxembourg provided a glimpse into the impact pro racing is having on the environment. According to figures calculated by nZero, the greenhouse emissions produced by the race were equivalent to driving 226,000 miles in a passenger car. That figure doesn’t take into account the carbon emissions of fans and would be much higher for longer and higher-profile races.

A key part of the UCI’s latest objectives is combating this carbon footprint, most notably at UCI World Championship and World Cup events. As a part of this, any countries or cities bidding for these events will need to meet certain Climate Action Charter and sustainability criteria, starting from 2028.

There is now also a bigger responsibility on teams and race organisers to also reduce their climate impact, something the UCI plans to embed into regulatory requirements for sanctioned events and team licensing procedures by 2026. By the same year, it also wants 100% of WorldTour, Women's WorldTour and ProSeries stakeholders to have carbon reduction targets and climate action plans in place.

A big step towards reaching this target was taken in 2022 when the UCI introduced its Climate Action Charter. Many leading teams and races were among its 80 original signatories, including Lidl-Trek and Bora-Hansgrohe, while Tour de France organiser ASO also signed up.

Anyone who joins the charter commits to measuring and reporting emissions to internationally-accepted standards.

Reflecting on the report, Lappartient reiterated that the UCI needed buy-in from everyone within the sport to meet its goals.

“It [the report] provides clear objectives, timelines and actions to accompany the cycling community in the fight against climate change and towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

“The transformation that is required to achieve our vision of making cycling one of the most sustainable sports in the world will require everyone to play their part in their specific area.”

Keep up to date with the latest cycling news on the GCN website.

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