Michael Woods has committed to going carbon neutral in the 2021 season, as well trying to educate himself and others in pro cycling about the environmental impact of the sport.
Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) has pointed out that while cycling itself is the perfect transport for its low environmental impact, the logistics associated with being a professional is having an undeniable negative effect.
“I love my job, but it’s hard to deny that the cost of my performance, and the impact it has on the planet, is significant,” Woods said.
In his recent blog post, Woods said: “Ahead of my first WorldTour race of 2021 [starting next week at Volta a Catalunya] I am excited to announce that I am making a personal commitment in making a positive difference as a professional cyclist.
“My particular passion and motivation is to tackle the impact I am having on the planet while racing bikes for a living. This is a hugely important and complex issue with no quick fix but my goal is to educate myself, take responsibility for my lifestyle, and to inspire my fans, partners and fellow pros along the way.”
Woods said that he checked the size of his carbon footprint on the WWF Footprint Calculator and he described his results as “quite disturbing” and “unavoidable” due to the sport he is using Gold Standard, an international certification for emission reduction projects, to make financial contributions to offset his impact.
The Canadian climber is hoping that his commitment will inspire his fans, partners and other riders to do the same, and hopefully, races will take it on board too.
Woods added: “Cycling is an amazing way to get around, explore, keep fit and has very little direct impact on the environment. You can travel hundreds of miles at a pace that allows you to really enjoy nature, all while not contributing to its decline.
“I love my job, but it’s hard to deny that the cost of my performance, and the impact it has on the planet, is significant.
“Riding has really opened my eyes to how beautiful the planet is and I want to do my part in protecting it.”
Woods said he was inspired to reduce his carbon footprint through conversations with former pro rider Christian Meier.
Pro riders routinely fly around the world to races, have a convoy of cars and trucks on hand, use large team buses at the end of each stage of a race, and use countless plastic bottles and packaged goods, Woods said.
When at home, the 34-year-old said he rarely travels by car, instead using the bike or walking, shopping locally and reducing meat consumption.
But Woods said that the amount of clothes and products he consumes both at races and in training was a shock.
His future steps will include using a permanent knife, fork, cup, and bowl on the road, while rethinking out how he eats and travels.
Electric cars and lorries are among the ways organisations in pro cycling aim to reduce their carbon footprints.
One such race that has already committed to this is the Arctic Race of Norway, an area of the world that will be seeing the impact of global warming with the glaciers melting at alarming rates.
The race has said that they will be using electric vehicles from now on as their race commissaire cars.
Last year, Deceuninck – Quick-Step committed to becoming carbon neutral in the 2020 season and in February 2021 the Belgian WorldTour squad announced they had successfully offset all their carbon emissions.
The team supported projects providing safe drinking water in Uganda and helping with the the reforestation of the area around Mont Ventoux in France to offset their carbon usage.