The world’s most successful cycling team is also winning on climate action

Photo credit: Deceuninck-QuickStep / Wout Beel.

By Anders Lorenzen

Deceuninck-QuickStep, the Belgian cycling team at the top of the professional cycling premier league, the World Tour, is season after season notching up more wins than any other cycling team.

In recent years there has been more pressure on the cycling world to take action on reducing their climate and environmental impacts. And it is an issue where Deceuninck-QuickStep also wants to take a lead.

A year ago the team launched the initiative #ItStartsWithUs and announced pledges to offset their carbon footprint. As a result, they have announced that they have now officially offset all their carbon emissions for 2020 and have now become carbon neutral.

To achieve this, Deceuninck-QuickStep partnered with CO2Logic, a social enterprise specialising in offsetting and calculating carbon emissions. They found that their carbon footprint amounted to 1288 tons of CO2, equivalent to driving a car 179 times around the world, or taking 539 return flights between Brussels and New York. To offset this amount by reforestation measures alone would need forest cover equivalent to around 3099 football pitches.

Offset projects

In a partnership with CO2Logic, Deceuninck-QuickStep focused on two offsetting projects. One helped to supply safe drinking water in Uganda and another the reforestation of the area around Mont Ventoux in France, a popular climb in cycling races. So far the project in Uganda has supplied 1.9 million litres of clean water to 823 people. According to CO2Logic and Deceuninck-QuickStep, over 45% of Uganda’s population has no access to safe drinking water, which means people are forced to boil water to make it safe to drink. This not only releases greenhouse gases but requires the cutting down of trees to provide firewood. This project alone has preserved over 815 hectares of trees and offsets nearly 1300 tones of CO2.

The Mont Ventoux sustainable foresty project. Photo credit: Deceuninck-QuickStep.

The Mont Ventoux project has seen several areas of forest designated for sustainable forestry management and conservation. The cycling team says that supporting this project not only halts the cutting down of trees but also helps to manage the woodland area to grow healthier and stronger. As well as being close to the iconic climb of Mont Ventoux, the project sits close to the team’s hearts. This as the forest is a habitat for the wild wolves which the team, known as `the Wolfpack` has a particular feeling for.

In addition to the offset projects, they have also announced a series of other initiatives. They have unveiled a set of manifesto pledges to help reduce overall environmental impacts which include reducing the reliance on plastics, promoting a culture of recycling, reducing energy consumption and, close to their hearts, promoting cycling as a viable mode of transport.

More to do

Deceuninck-QuickStep CEO Patrick Lefevere said: “We are delighted with the findings from the first year of our campaign. At the start of 2020 we made a commitment not only to offset our CO2 emissions but also to change the behaviours of our team, our staff and our supporters. We don’t need to remind anyone of how difficult 2020 proved to be and we know we could have achieved so much more, but despite this, we are very proud of what we have achieved.”

He added that it is up to everyone to step up and do more: “Cycling is a beautiful sport that has drawn us all together, but we need to look to how we can compete in races held all over the planet while still protecting the fragile environment around us. Since we launched the project, we have noticed a changing of the tide within cycling, with the UCI very recently announcing changes to the rules on dealing with waste during a race. This is just the start of what we hope can be a big movement within the sport and we will be looking to push even further in 2021.”

The world’s most successful cycling team said the reason that they had taken these steps was they had become ever more aware of the impact that travelling the globe to compete in the world’s biggest bike races has on our environment

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