Formula E team up with UN Environment in race to improve inner-city air quality

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition supports moves toward cleaner transport and electric-mobility.


A Formula E car is prepped for the Paris race

Formula E, the world’s first fully-electric single-seater racing series, has joined forces with UN Environment to launch a global partnership in the fight to improve inner-city air quality – continuing to boost the profile of alternative energy solutions and the increased uptake of electric vehicles.

The multi-year partnership will focus on raising awareness of the benefits of electric vehicles among younger generations and motorsport fans globally – educating future consumers of electric cars, and challenging major cities and governments to take action to tackle pollution.

The new partnership will leverage the popularity of the FIA Formula E Championship, who bring electrifying motorsport to some of the world’s leading cities, including Hong Kong, Marrakesh, Buenos Aires, Paris, New York and Montreal.

Racing has always been a laboratory for the development of technology in the motor industry, previously with combustion-engine cars and now with electric vehicles. Formula E wants to play a role in providing a solution – to help more people buy and drive electric cars.


Erik Solheim, UN Environment's Executive Director, with a Formula E car.

Formula E works in collaboration with Enel – Official Power Partner of the FIA Formula E Championship – to promote the advancement of the championship’s power technology infrastructure, through optimizing clean energy generation, distribution and management, and showcasing advanced energy solutions. Enel is designing a fully-digitised energy mini-grid for Formula E, using the company’s smart metering technology to monitor power usage and give fans the chance to interact with an advanced energy system in real time.

The 40 fully-electric Formula E cars are powered by generators using zero-emissions glycerine. The generators are based on standard production diesel engines that have been adapted with Aquafuel’s patented technology to run on glycerine. The fuel itself is a by-product of the bio-diesel production process, and it’s so clean you can drink it.

Lucas di Grassi, Formula E driver for ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport and five-time ePrix winner, will be appointed as the partnership’s Advocate for Electric Mobility and Clean Air in a bid to spread the message of the links between reduced emissions, improved health and climate change.

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Formula E driver, Lucas di Grassi, talks to Erik Solheim.

“Formula E puts a fresh spotlight on electric vehicles and is an exciting glimpse of what is to come –  the age of clean, viable transport,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment. “Formula E and UN Environment share the aim to usher in this era and speed up acceptance of these technologies to combat air pollution. Air pollution has taken centre-stage this year as a serious public health threat, and with good reason.”

Alejandro Agag, Founder & CEO of Formula E, said: “We face big challenges ahead of us - climate change, inner-city pollution and producing energy in a sustainable way all around the world. That’s why we’ve teamed up with UN Environment to help continue the education process. Formula E aims to make the switch to electric cars make sense for consumers - more efficient and more affordable.”

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(L-R) Jean Todt, President Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA); Erik Solheim; Akbar Al Baker, CEO Qatar Airways; and Alejandero Agag, CEO Formula E

The World Health Organization estimates that 6.5 million people die prematurely each year from air pollution-related diseases, and 80 per cent of urban residents worldwide breathe polluted air –  with a whole host of detrimental short and long-term health effects. Transport contributes one-quarter of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions today.

UN Environment sees electric transportation as one of the essential components of achieving more sustainable and cleaner cities. Its Electric Mobility Programme works in 50 developing and transitioning countries to support their move from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. UN Environment is a founding partner of the Breathe Life campaign, the UN’s biggest-ever campaign on air quality, which aims to raise awareness of global and local impacts of air pollution and the broad range of viable solutions for cities and governments to improve air quality.

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Erik Solheim discusses the benefits of electric mobility and low emitting vehicles with (l-r) Jean Todt, Anne Hildago- Mayor of Paris, and Rashida Dati- Mayor of Paris's 7th Arrondissement

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