Case Study

The Drive to Net Zero: McLaren Racing Teams Up with UNDO in Carbon Removal Partnership

UNDO has become McLaren Racing’s first enhanced rock weathering partner as part of its new Climate Contribution Programme.

Over the next three years, UNDO will spread over 24,000 tonnes of crushed basalt rock on behalf of McLaren Racing, which will permanently remove approximately 6,165 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. The carbon removal partnership will also enrich over 1,200 hectares of British agricultural land and contribute to McLaren Racing’s net zero by 2040 target. 

McLaren Racing’s Environmental Commitment

McLaren Racing has committed to achieving net zero by 2040. This goal aligns with the Science-based Targets initiative and United Nations Sports for Climate Action Frameworks. However, achieving net zero is just one of four pillars of McLaren Racing’s sustainability strategy. The other three include transitioning to a circular economy, championing diversity, equity & inclusion in racing, and promoting health & wellbeing among McLaren’s team. 

UNDO And McLaren’s Carbon Removal Collaboration 

McLaren’s Climate Contribution Programme is a core element in their race to net zero. It is aimed at accelerating the removal of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and supporting the restoration of damaged ecosystems. Using their global brand to draw attention to crucial issues, they are simultaneously investing in organisations that have aligned environmental interests. 

In McLaren Racing’s holistic portfolio approach, UNDO is proud to appear alongside the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and Mombak reforestation projects. Mombak, alongside UNDO, is a fellow signatory of the Reykjavik Protocol and both have committed to a set of principles governing how nature-deployed environmental credit-generating companies can responsibly bring their carbon removal solutions to market. 

UNDO and McLaren’s carbon removal partnership is mutually beneficial. UNDO is providing high-quality, permanent carbon removal on behalf of McLaren. In turn, McLaren is scaling UNDO’s carbon dioxide removal solution by being an early mover in the space. As a co-benefit, British farmers are reaping improved soil health, higher crop yields and lower costs.   

Interview with Kim Wilson, McLaren Racing’s Director of Sustainability

What were the key business synergies that aligned UNDO to McLaren’s net zero transition?

“McLaren Racing’s Climate Contribution Programme is intended to support high-quality projects that help solve issues caused by climate change, by bringing our racing expertise and mindset to help accelerate and scale them at the pace that the world needs. 

We wanted to support a high-quality carbon removal project with long-term storage, in a location that is meaningful to McLaren Racing as a British team. Furthermore, this project offered an authentic opportunity to collaborate and scale UNDO’s ambitious climate solution. We also like that this project supports local communities, with co-benefits of better soil health, higher crop yield, and reduced costs for farmers. 

Both McLaren Racing and UNDO are pioneers in their respective fields and are focused on setting high standards for ourselves and helping to raise the bar in our industries.

The fact that UNDO is one of the founding signatories of the Reykjavik Protocol – a set of 12 principles that provide an ethical and operational framework for nature-deployed environmental credit suppliers, ensuring the highest quality credits based on the most credible science available – is a strong indicator of the project’s high standards and pioneering spirit. Our sustainability team participated in a site visit to UNDO where we saw the rock spreading in action and had the opportunity to spend time with their science and carbon specialists to understand their approach.”

What is the role of permanent carbon removals in your sustainability strategy going forward? 

“At McLaren Racing, we have committed to achieving net zero by 2040 and to play our part in line with climate science to tackle climate change. A big part of that is making sure that we reduce emissions across all our operations and supply chains, but we know that’s not enough. We aim to compensate for 10% of our 2019 baseline carbon emissions with this programme. 

Carbon removals are only part of our net zero strategy. We are also investing in projects to reduce our emissions, particularly from our facilities, logistics and supply chain. In 2022, we achieved a 22% reduction compared to our 2019 baseline. The other element of our Climate Contribution Programme is to bring F1 know-how, in the form of innovative engineering and high-performance culture, to projects helping them scale and accelerate their solutions to climate change.”

In this hard-to-navigate carbon removal market, how does McLaren define quality when it comes to assessing carbon removal partners?

“From a quality perspective, we considered the following when assessing which carbon removal projects to support: 

  • Certification by a carbon standard such as Verra, Gold Standard or Puro.Earth. 
  • Independent research and due diligence, including a review of the carbon accounting methodology, academic consultancy of the project’s credibility, interviews with UNDO personnel and an in-person physical site visit.
  • Review of other project supporters, considering the strictness of their quality assessments and their credibility in the carbon offsetting space.
  • Alignment with the Oxford Principles for Carbon Offsetting.”

What hopes do you have for the wider sports industry following the news of this collaboration? Do you expect to see further sustainability strategies with goals to rapidly decarbonise and purchase high-quality carbon removal credits?

“We believe in the power of sport to inspire change and drive innovation, and we work with an incredible network of partners, stakeholders and communities to have a positive impact across industries and platforms we would not normally reach. Our reach across five racing series and our global partnerships network enable us to share learnings and use our platforms to advocate for positive change. 

We have been strongly advocating for improving the sustainability criteria in F1’s regulations so that teams don’t have to make the impossible choice between on-track performance and sustainability. In the last year, in collaboration with the FIA, F1 and other teams, we have successfully enabled the development of some exclusions from the cost cap, to allow teams to make the investments needed in sustainability. However, there is still work to be done in this space which we continue to be heavily involved in. We are actively participating in a newly established Sustainability Working Group where we will collaborate with the FIA, F1 and other teams to influence regulation changes in the direction of sustainability.

As the only racing team to participate in F1, IndyCar, Formula E and Extreme E, as well as e-sports, we have a unique opportunity to foster innovation and cross-learning to positively address our economic, environmental and social impacts.”

How can McLaren’s fanbase get involved?

“We hope to provide optimism to our fans that there are credible climate solutions out there and that McLaren Racing is playing its part by helping the three fantastic organisations that we have chosen to collaborate with on our Climate Contribution programmes, to reach scale at pace. We hope that our fans engage with these projects, learn about them and help spread the word.” 

What is Enhanced Rock Weathering?

Enhanced rock weathering is a scalable carbon dioxide removal technology with significant co-benefits to soil health and crop yields. It accelerates the natural geological process of weathering, whereby the CO₂ in rainwater interacts with silicate rocks such as basalt, forming stable bicarbonate ions which are transported to the ocean where it resides over geological timescales. As this mineral-rich volcanic rock breaks down, it releases magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and other nutrients, increasing crop yield, raising and stabilising soil pH and reducing the need for fertilisers.

A Note from Jim on the Partnership

Jim Mann, CEO and Founder, UNDO, commented: “We’re thrilled to announce this transformative collaboration between UNDO and McLaren Racing to help the team reach net zero emissions targets. Alongside McLaren Racing’s decarbonisation plans, 6,165 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be permanently removed from the atmosphere via enhanced rock weathering. This new initiative goes beyond carbon removal; it will also enrich the soil of 1,200 hectares of British farmland and bolster climate resilience.”

UNDO – A Key Partner in Your Net Zero Journey 

UNDO is excited to work with an organisation like McLaren Racing, as they have taken a  comprehensive approach towards sustainability and have planned to invest in carbon removals over many years to come.

With a range of carbon removal partnerships with climate-forward businesses like McLaren Racing, UNDO is aiming to spread enough rock by 2025 to permanently remove one million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. UNDO hopes that key partnerships like this will inspire other major players in the sporting world to include enhanced rock weathering in their net zero strategies.

Talk to our expert team

Does your business have climate ambitions? UNDO offers permanent, high-quality carbon removal via enhanced rock weathering technology that comes with co-benefits to the food systems we rely on, farmers and our oceans. Talk to our expert team about your net zero goals and how developing a partnership with UNDO can enable them.