August 3, 2021

Being more eco-responsible without losing its folklore, one of the challenges of the Tour de France

The little phrase had caused a stir: September 9, 2020, on the sidelines of 107e Tour de France, the mayor of Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EELV) of Lyon, Grégory Doucet, castigated at the regional daily Progress, Event “Macho and polluting”. A month earlier, Nathalie Appéré, the socialist mayor of Rennes, had refused to host the big departure in 2021, giving way to Brest. Too degrading for the image of women, but also too expensive, too much waste …

For several years, the ecological impact of the Grande Boucle has been singled out. In 2009, the political party Génération Ecologie denounced “The environmental irresponsibility of the organizers of the Tour de France”. Ten years later, six non-governmental organizations and thirty-four deputies alerted, in a tribune to the Sunday newspaper, of the 18 million “goodies”, these small promotional gifts distributed on the sidelines of the event, and which sometimes end in nature.

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“I challenge you to find some on the side of the road after the caravan has passed. People tend to fight to pick them up ”, slides Karine Bozzacchi, CSR manager (corporate social responsibility) of cycling events within Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), which organizes the event. But, she admits, the gestures of the jet associated with it are becoming more and more unbearable for viewers.

A high carbon footprint

The latest estimate, made in 2013, put the carbon footprint of one edition of the event at 341,000 tonnes. We are far from events like a Football World Cup or the Olympic Games which, with their important works, their heavy investments and their massive influx of populations, record a carbon footprint of several million tons of CO.2. The number is nonetheless considerable, especially since the event takes place every year.

“The Tour system does not change much in terms of the volume of vehicles, of the public”, defends Karine Bozzacchi, who specifies that assessments will be carried out for the 2019 and 2021 – 2020 editions having been upset by the health crisis that cannot serve as a reference. Objective: to develop a calculation tool facilitating monitoring ” from year to year “ and allowing “Correct more quickly, depending on the positions, [les] ways of doing things ”.

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The two main areas of the Tour’s emissions, traveling event and general public, are transport and waste. Between the teams, the organizers, the media or the advertising caravan, several hundred vehicles follow the route of the event. For this 108e edition, 85% of the organization’s fleet is equipped with hybrid engines, while a few 100% electric vehicles are integrated into the race – they had been tested on three stages in 2020.

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