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Rally Finland to start compensating the event’s carbon footprint

The goal is a carbon-neutral Rally Finland by 2030

The organiser of the Jyväskylä-based WRC event, AKK Sports and Neova, one of the leading bioenergy companies in Scandinavia, have entered into a three-year partnership agreement. The aim of the partnership is to create a model that can be used to compensate the total carbon footprint of Rally Finland by 2030.

Rally Finland overview

Rally Finland, the Finnish round of the FIA World Rally Championship, is a legendary sporting event that has been organised since 1951 in and around the city of Jyväskylä in Central Finland. The event is one of Finland’s most well-known calling cards internationally, praised every year by the various stakeholders for its organisation and voted by the WRC teams as Rally of the Year several times.

Providing nearly 300 000 spectator experiences along the gravel roads of Central Finland – as well as in the heart of host city Jyväskylä – Rally Finland is the largest annually organised sporting event in the country. In 2019, there was a +14% increase in total visits to the event compared to 2018, with the relative growth of female visitors being very strong: as much as +16% compared to the previous year.

In 2019, the event was televised in 150 countries and the total social media reach grew to nearly 200 million contacts. Rally Finland also attracted a record number of accredited media representatives: 502 reporters and photo journalists, 64% of whom were international. The renewed Official Programme, published for the first time in digital format, reached approximately 3.1 million contacts via the various channels of Mediahouse Keskisuomalainen (source: Finnish Internet Audience Measurement – FIAM).

Each year, approximately 4 000 – 4 500 volunteers, including approximately 100 local clubs, associations and other organisations, work at the event. Rally Finland is a very important economic cornerstone of the area – according to a study conducted in 2017, total spending at the event was over 20 million euros, of which the direct economic impacts for the Jyväskylä region were approximately 14.4 million euros. For many small businesses as well as organisations involved in the running of the event, Rally Finland is the most significant source of income each year.

Sustainability and responsibility work in general

Rally Finland is known as the best rally in the world as well as an interesting benchmark for international sporting events. It has an outstanding reputation and attraction as a calling card for Finland, well-known Finnish traditions as well as international motorsport. Rally Finland aspires to also be the most responsible rally in the world and a paragon of responsible organising of large-scale events, both nationally and internationally.

As a concrete example of this mindset, Rally Finland has been involved in the Sustainable Travel Finland programme of Visit Finland (a national authority on tourism and an active force in promoting international travel to Finland) since the beginning of 2021 – being the first Finnish major event to do so. The Sustainable Travel Finland programme includes a number of concrete objectives, based on which the event is being organised and run in a responsible and ethical manner, taking extensively into account the social, cultural, ecological and economic aspects.

More detailed information about the Rally Finland Sustainability and responsibility work and plans can be found at www.rallyfinland.fi/en/responsibility

The Carbon footprint of Rally Finland and its estimated development up until 2030

Based on a study conducted in co-operation with the consulting company Pöyry PLC in 2019, the total carbon footprint of Rally Finland organised in its current form is approximately 3 820 tCO2eq per year. The majority of this comes from the movement of spectators, with only approximately 150 tCO2eq resulting from the activities of the event organisation and approximately 72 tCO2eq from emissions produced by rally cars during the competition. Rally Finland has been working for years already to reduce its own carbon footprint by making the most ecological choices possible when it comes to e.g. materials, energy production and waste management. It is gratifying to see that similar measures have also been adopted in the World Rally Championship as part of the activities of the international WRC organisation, and that concrete measures tangible for the general public will be introduced as early as 2022, when the cars in the premier class of the WRC will be equipped with hybrid engines and use only carbon-neutral synthetic fuel.

In the coming years, development is inevitably heading to the direction that the total carbon footprint of Rally Finland will be reduced as a result of the aforementioned active measures of the event organiser and the international rally organisation – and also, first and foremost, as a result of the carbon footprint produced by the movement of spectators being reduced as there will be a strong increase in hybrid and electric cars as a means of transport among the rally spectators too.                                       

According to estimates, the total carbon footprint of Rally Finland will be reduced from the current approximately 3 820 tCO2eq to approximately 3 290 tCO2eq by 2025, and by 2030 the reduction of the carbon footprint will gather further momentum, with the total carbon footprint of the event being approximately 2 420 tCO2eq.

Rally Finland’s partnership with Neova Oy and the plan for compensating the carbon footprint

Based on a study conducted in co-operation with the consulting company Pöyry PLC in 2019, the total carbon footprint of Rally Finland organised in its current form is approximately 3 820 tCO2eq per year. The majority of this comes from the movement of spectators, with only approximately 222 tCO2eq resulting from the event organisation’s own activities and from the rally cars.

In the first phase of the co-operation between Rally Finland and Neova Oy, Neova will transfer a 25-hectare former peat production area in Jämsä, Central Finland, to the Finnish ASN, AKK-Motorsport ry. Rally Finland organiser AKK-Sports Ltd, the marketing company fully owned by the Finnish ASN, then undertakes the task of planting additional new forest into this area and commits to preserving the area as a carbon sink in the future. According to the calculations of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), 1 hectare of additional forest in Central Finland will sequester approximately 300 tonnes of carbon during its 100-year life cycle.

Through the partnership agreement with Neova Oy, the Rally Finland organiser sets out to offset the event’s carbon footprint step by step, so that the forest planting to be carried out in 2022 (i.e. phase one), will compensate for the carbon footprint of the organiser and the rally cars for Rally Finland 2021. After that first phase, the planting process will expand each year to gradually cover the total carbon footprint of the event.   

Over the first term of the contract, the aim of both parties is to design a model, with the help of which all Rally Finland carbon dioxide emissions can be offset and the event can achieve at least carbon neutrality – even carbon negativity – by 2030.

Comments from the representatives of AKK and Neova Oy

According to Markus Häkkinen from AKK Sports Oy, the co-operation with Neova Oy helps Rally Finland’s long-running sustainability and responsibility work to take an important and concrete step forward towards carbon neutrality.  

– Thus far, we have been focusing on reducing the carbon footprint generated by our own organisation by e.g. minimising the carbon footprint of the event’s material choices and the fuels used in the Rally Finland energy production, but now we are able to also start taking concrete measures to offset the total carbon footprint of the entire event, specifically in the heart of the area impacted by the World Rally Championship event, says Häkkinen.

According to Neova’s Communication and Public Affairs Director Ahti Martikainen, reforestation of a former production area and its transfer over to carbon offsetting, is a reliably verifiable way of offsetting carbon dioxide emissions.

– Additionally, an area that becomes a forest always improves the biodiversity of a peatland. If you add up all the plant, animal and fungal species found in a forest, there can be as many as 20 000 different species, which is several times more than in normal peatland or mire nature, says Martikainen.

– As a Jyväskylä-based company, the biggest and most international event in Finland is a very natural partner for us. This is a good opportunity for us to showcase Neova’s story and at the same time support responsible event organising. Over 80 percent of Neova’s turnover of approximately 500 million comes from products related to renewable fuels, growing and water and air purification. Our role in this project is to bring in suitable carbon sink areas and to provide consultation for AKK Sports in achieving their challenging carbon neutrality and biodiversity goals, Martikainen concludes.

For further information, please contact:

Markus Häkkinen, CFO, AKK Sports Ltd, tel. +358 40 551 0289
Ahti Martikainen, Director, Communication and Public Affairs, Neova Oy, tel. +358 40 680 4723

Press images: https://mediabank.neova-group.com/l/82qKhPV7-sTK