2012 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Goes green

The 22nd edition of the world’s ultimate desert rally becomes carbon neutral 

First of its kind initiative in the Middle East


ABU DHABI (UAE). 24 March 2012:  One of the world’s most challenging desert rallies, the 2012 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge (30 March – 6 April) has signed a deal to offset any environmental damage from the event. The agreement is signed between Automobile & Touring Club of UAE (ATCUAE) with Carbon Credit brokerage, Advanced Global Trading (AGT), and considered to be the first of its kind in the region.

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge involves over 360 vehicles from support teams, competitors and organisers participating across the spectacular terrain of the Liwa Desert. The FIA’s environmental committee reporting presented that a significant amount of CO2 emissions from such a large motorsport event were present, therefore the ATCUAE decided to offset these emissions with the support of AGT.

An advocate of responsible motoring, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, ATCUAE President and founder of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, has spearheaded this environmentally-aware agreement: “This challenging event takes place in a beautiful country with one of the most spectacular settings in the world, so we must take every measure we can to ensure the environment doesn’t suffer from our passion. To me it is very important we take this step because it is in alliance with UAE government vision regarding environmental awareness and moving towards renewable and green energy, especially that this event is held in Abu Dhabi the host of the world energy summit beginning of this year, and the patronage of this event, HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed is also the Chairman of the Environment Agency.”

Indeed, the UAE government is leading the region in regards to renewable energy and environmental awareness projects, with investments expected to tally up to $2.74 trillion by 2020. And Abu Dhabi is again hosting the World Energy Summit in January 2013.

Prior to every event, ATCUAE briefs all competitors about potentially negative effects on the Western Region as a wildlife habitat. If they’re not responsible - such as with oil spills and changing filters during the race - there are heavy penalty points deducted from competitors who breach guidelines. The UAE’s environmental authorities are involved from the outset – even down to planning the route.

“We wholeheartedly welcome AGT on board as our partners and are pleased they have offered to retire the total number of Carbon Credits in order to negate any unavoidable damage that happens and we’re proud to be implementing such positive measures,” added Ben Sulayem.

AGT is an industry-leader in sourcing and trading Carbon Credits to help companies and individuals offset their CO2 emissions and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change, employing over 140 traders in the UAE, UK, Switzerland, USA, South Africa and Spain.

Omar Al Jaddou, AGT Director of Special Projects, who are launching their Abu Dhabi office to coincide with the race, says: “This is a very well run event, but the sheer size of it means, regardless of the extensive measures they take to minimize the environmental impact, there will still be a significant amount of damage – particularly in the form of C02 emissions from hundreds of powerful vehicles racing across difficult terrain.

AGT will calculate emissions post-race, before purchasing and retiring the correct number of VER (Voluntary Emissions Reduction) Carbon Credits to equal the total environmental pollution. These retired credits will be ploughed back into projects, such as wind farms or carbon capture initiatives that help the environment.”

The calculation will include emissions from the vehicles participating in the event, as well as their support teams in addition to marshals, officials and rescue team vehicles. Also included in the calculations are the four evacuation helicopters and the camp generators.

The Desert Challenge is held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s representative in the Western Region, and Chairman of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, with support from a number of key partners, including Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, Nissan and ADNOC.

This year’s event also serves as the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship season opener and the second round of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, offering spectators unrivalled, free access to top-class motorsport in a number of breathtaking settings, with dedicated, easy-to-access Al Gharbia desert viewing points.