Two years ago the European Freestyle Pro Tour started a cooperation with Starboard to make the tour carbon neutral. The aim for 2021 was to improve that by making the tour carbon positive as well. This means that over time all previous events will be offset by adding an additional 10% to the total of carbon sequestered per year. We are proud to say that we are reaching our aim this year thanks to Starboard, who are planting 89 mangrove trees to offset all of these emissions! We caught up with Tasmin Chilcott, the environmental projects manager at Starboard, and Starboard riders Steven van Broeckhoven and Lennart Neubauer to talk about the EFPT becoming carbon positive in 2021:
In 2021 more than 150 people, crew and riders alike, travelled to our events with a mix of planes, cars, trains and ferry’s. Adding the emissions of boat use and our tow-in winch at the events brings us to a total of 72.8 tonnes of CO2 emitted in 2021. Flights alone constitute a whopping 76% (55 tonnes) of that, showing the impact air travel has on our environment. Furthermore, 93.000 kilometres were travelled over land which resulted in 16.4 tonnes of CO2 emitted. The majority of people who travelled over land carpooled which means the kilometres driven are shared. This reduces emissions and is something we love to see from our crew and riders! The total was then increased by 10% for any inaccuracies, and then increased by yet another 10% to make the tour carbon positive. This results in a total of 88.45 tonnes to be offset. As a mangrove sequesters approximately a ton of carbon dioxide over 20 years, a total of 89 mangrove trees will thus be planted by Starboard.
Why it matters.
International sporting events are a hub for athletes and spectators alike and people have to travel from many locations to get there. Inevitably a huge amount of CO2 is emitted in the process, which is very hard to prevent. Needless to say, stopping the organisation of international events is not an option, and thus offsetting all of the emissions (and more) is a way to make sure our impact on the planet stays limited.
As most people already know, increasing CO2 emissions around the world are affecting the balance of the greenhouse gasses on our planet, causing it to heat up. The effects are set to be catastrophic and are already affecting a multitude of living beings worldwide.
Environmental project manager at Starboard Tasmin Chilcott says :
“Our vision is to keep enjoying the playground we love and have fun in. We know this comes as a cost to nature but we can help nature recover and give it a helping hand where we can. For the EFPT we will continue to make the events carbon positive in 2022 and in the future we can aim to make them 10 times Climate Net Positive by calculating for everyones travel and the events electricity usage and then planting 10 times as many trees than actual emissions. Therefore absorbing for a lot more than emitted from the event but also emitting from what is produced for some stages of our life. We can come together and heal what has been damaged by humans in nature.”
Mangroves are the ideal solution for offsetting CO2 emissions as they sink carbon deep into the ground, therefore removing it from the atmosphere. They can absorb up to 1 tonne of CO2 within the first 20 years of their life, making them 5 times as effective as normal trees in the fight against climate change! Due to their complex root structure, they also provide safe homes for wildlife and are a fantastic natural sea and storm defence. The mangroves are planted in areas were they were once abundant, but were cut down for shrimp and salt farming. The protection of mangroves has now become an alternative livelihood for these farmers who have become their guardians.
Read more about mangroves here.
What the EFPT is doing.
Within the EFPT we are working on reducing the travel distances between events for riders and crew alike. This is done by scheduling the dates of the tour stops in local proximity, preventing a lot of back and forth travel. At the event sites we try to reduce emissions as well, preventing unnecessary boat usage, or like at the Geneva Wind Festival, where we went with a fully solar powered electric boat for the crew. Furthermore, we are assisting local organisers in making their events more sustainable, for example by developing concepts to use less non-reusable plastics and by offering more climate conscious meals. The whole EFPT crew is also outfitted with organic, CO2 neutral and fair trade clothing produced by Grundstoff.net. Naturally the biggest step is our cooperation with Starboard, truly taking the EFPT climate protection measures to the next level.
EFPT CEO Adam Sims:
“It’s an extremely exciting time on the tour, we are working hard on so many aspects and to already achieve goals like this so early on is really motivating. It’s been great work by the team to enhance what was laid out before and bring us to a point where we will see the future of the tour offset past events. Special thanks must be accredited to Starboard for aligning with our visions on this one and helping us achieve a responsible and bright future. The whole team can be proud in the knowledge that everything we do and create is now done so with less negative consequences to our planet.”
What Starboard is doing.
In terms of climate action, we are still far behind Starboard who is setting the benchmark in the windsurfing industry. Every year they calculate their own carbon footprint to ensure they are reducing their emissions as much as possible. Everything they do end up emitting is being offset through nature. For every board produced 1 mangrove is planted, absorbing the production emissions 10 times over! Furthermore, Starboard’s headquarters in Bangkok are completely eco-aware. A ban on single use plastics is active on site and renewable energy is used to power everything in the building. Vegetarian meals are served for employees during lunch and drinking water is sourced through condensation of the humid air around the premises. Starboard also teach what they preach, with their environmental team often visiting schools to talk about the future of our planet. Most impressively, Starboard has already planted more than 1 million mangroves and will continue planting them!
Read more about Starboard’s efforts here.
Starboard Brand Manager Nico Prien on the cooperation with the EFPT:
“For us at Starboard it’s extremely exciting to come across organizations that share our vision and want to be proactive in fighting climate change. With the EFPT setting an example in becoming carbon positive, we’re hoping to see more watersport events taking similar actions in the future. Now the eyes are on the EFPT, and we’re looking forward to see what else they can do, in order to run the events with a lower footprint.”
The European Freestyle Pro Tour is thankful and proud of the cooperation with Starboard. We hope more brands, tours and organisers will follow suit in becoming more proactive in combating climate change. We are thrilled about the possibility of ‘returning‘ something to this beautiful world, that is depending so much on our protection.