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This paper aims to explore motorsport from the viewpoint of environmental sustainability. This is important because of the growing concerns around the globe of the impact of human activity on the environment. The introduction to the paper outlines the rationale for adopting a sustainability analysis to the management and marketing of motorsport. The sections that follow offer definitions of the respective concepts of motorsport and sustainability.
The section on sustainability looks at the origins of the modern environmental movement, from which the concept of sustainability emerged, and then discusses the associated concepts of the 'triple bottom line' and 'natural capital' in order to offer alternatives to more conventional methods of understanding motorsport and the resources it requires.
The importance of sustainability in the 21st century and the current situation with regard to achievement of sustainability are considered, and the latest United Nations environmental assessment is drawn upon to place sport, and specifically motorsport, in a global environmental context.
Literature pertaining to sustainability and sport is reviewed and an analysis of the role of material consumption practices is offered. The paper then evaluates some attempts within motorsport to become more sustainable. The paper concludes that further research into sustainable management and marketing practices for motorsport is warranted.
Motorsport is an important part of the social and commercial fabric of industrialised societies. Around the world, it occupies an important place in popular and sporting culture. From the Silverstone, Nurburgring and Monaco Formula One racetracks in Europe to Canada's Circuit Gilles-Villenueve in North America to Brazil's Interlagos in South America to the Shanghai International Circuit in China and the desert plains of Africa for the Paris-Dakar Rally to the long straights of Australia's Mount Panorama, Bathurst and Phillip Island, in its various forms motorsport is of both historic and global significance.
As a sport it is also very diverse: the term 'motorsport' encompasses a range of major categories of racing. For four-wheeled vehicles alone there is a multitude of forms: Formula One, Indy Car, Stock Car, Rally, Drag Racing, Go-Karts, Dune Buggies and trucks are just some. Motorbikes race in several varieties, including Superbikes, Motocross, Quad Bikes and the derivative Snocross competitions. While motorsport is principally a land-based activity, it also extends to onshore and offshore speedboat racing. Many categories of motorsport are further divided into sub-categories--on-road or track racing and off-road racing. Within each major category, motorsport is further divided into a range of competitions according to body type, engine capacity and vehicle manufacturer, each with their own idiosyncrasies and technical requirements.
All varieties of motorsport, however, have two key commonalities. The first is that the participants place great value on competitiveness--the winning of competitions and how this is achieved. As a result, the recording, quantification and measurement of progress towards winning is a typical characteristic; and speed, engine size, engine power and aerodynamic efficiency are widely discussed by participants, commentators and fans. The second commonality is that all strands of motorsport share a dependence on the physical resources of planet Earth, and for most, a heavy reliance on crude oil as an energy source for propulsion.
In recent years, the emergence of the environment generally, and the phenomenon of anthropogenic climate change in particular, as global social, political and economic issues is prompting a re-examination of many forms of human activity. How we use energy, and the sources from which we derive it, is now widely debated in the spheres of government, commerce and among citizens. While motorsport is widely reported in electronic and print media around the globe, there has been very little academic research into the environmental sustainability of the sport. This paper aims to review a selection of literature pertaining to motorsport and sustainability in order to make a contribution to understanding whether motorsport, in a broad sense, is an environmentally sustainable practice.
A wealth of research in recent years suggests that consumption-driven human civilisation has, and will continue to have, a very negative impact on our planet across a range of measures--including land, water, atmosphere and biodiversity. It is axiomatic that this degradation and pollution is a consequence of the consumption of our natural resources. As a result, the continuance of current human consumption-based activity, including some sport, is increasingly drawn into question. While motorsport is a significant example of such sporting activity, for both economic and social reasons, our understanding of motorsport's relationship within our environment, and how it impacts upon our environment, is not widely discussed or evaluated.
Using concepts such as sustainability and natural capital, the paper reviews some of the literature pertaining to the sustainability of motorsport. It places motorsport within a broader environmental context and draws upon the latest United Nations' environmental assessment (2007) to discuss some of our planet's natural 'capital' upon which motorsport depends for its sustenance.
The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the global governing body for motorsport, surprisingly, does not offer a definition of motorsport in its 'Statutes', 'Regulations' or the International Sporting Code (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, 2009). The FIA does, however, define the term 'automobile' as:
A land vehicle propelled by its own means, running on at least four wheels not aligned, which must always be in contact with the ground; the steering must be ensured by at least two of the wheels, and the propulsion by at least two of the wheels.
In the absence of an official definition of motorsport, and for the purpose of clarity, this paper will adopt the definition of motorsport offered by Angus, Aylett, Henry and Jenkins (2007, pp. 1-2):
We define motorsport broadly as competitive racing by equivalent machines on a frequent basis, on designated tracks and circuits. These machines include ... motorcycles, moto-cross, karts, historic cars, drag, open-wheel, single-seat, sports, GT, Formula Ford, touring cars, rallying, sports compact, CART, IRL and Formula One.
Angus et al note that racing is organised around "series, championships, events and meetings arranged by promoters, circuits and racing clubs at all levels (professional race and amateur sport)" (p.l). They note that in the context of the motorsport industry, the term 'motor' refers to the "provision (construction and preparation) of cars and bikes", while 'sport' refers to the "infrastructure including clubs, circuits, promotion, insurance... that is needed to participate in or view the sport". They also suggest that motorsport is part of the "leisure and entertainment industry" (pp.l-2).
Angus et al identify some important parameters of the global motorsports industry. In 2005, these included:
* It was worth approximately 50 billion [pounds sterling] and represented 0.23% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
* There were approximately 600 race circuits (excluding kart tracks)
* There were 56 global motorsports events
* On average, more than 52 million viewers watched each Formula One Grand Prix.
Based on these measures, motorsport is clearly a major global industry with significant economic, entertainment and cultural dimensions.
In examining the sustainability of motorsport, it is appropriate to define the concept of sustainability. Dresner (2002, p.l) points out that the idea of sustainability emerged about 50 years ago. Edwards (2005, p.11) notes that its origins are in the emergence of the "environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s", whose antecedents were the United States' New England transcendentalist movement of the 1800s, which was concerned with the human connection with nature. While the thinking about sustainability is not limited to the United States, a number of American conservationists, including John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson--author of the influential text Silent Spring, gave impetus to the environmental movement from which the idea of sustainability originates, by linking the welfare of the environment to the ethical behaviour of people.
There is a range of views about how sustainability should be defined; our understanding of what it means has evolved significantly in the past two decades. Meadows et al (2004, p.254) observe that in simple terms, sustainability refers to the capacity of a society to "persist over generations". The authors note that a "sustainable society" is one that is "farseeing enough, flexible enough and wise enough not to undermine either its physical or social systems of support" (p.254). Sara Parkin, the co-founder of Forum for the Future in the UK and another key figure in the evolution of the concept of sustainability, argues that the word 'sustainable' refers to the "capacity for continuance" of a given organism or object. As a consequence:
Sustainability is therefore a quality. It is an objective, not a process. Something either has or has not got the quality of sustainability--the intrinsic capacity to keep itself going more or less indefinitely. We want the environment to have it, so it can support life.
(Parkin, 2000, p.7)
In essence, the idea is founded on the ability of life forms, as both individuals …