Exclusive: Extreme E's Catie Munnings talks environmental impact sport is having and how it'll help in future

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The final Extreme E race of the year takes place next weekend with Dorset playing host to the Jurassic X-Prix as the curtain comes down on the first season of the sport.

A championship tasked with raising environmental awareness around the globe as well as providing thrilling wheel-to-wheel action, Extreme E has been a hit so far and will surely be looking to grow further in 2022.

Ahead of the final round, we caught up with Andretti United driver and Red Bull athlete Catie Munnings to discuss a variety of topics related to the championship, and in this piece we're taking a look at the environmental side of things... 

What sort of early successes do you feel Extreme E is having in terms of environmental awareness, and do you think it's starting to have a positive impact already in this respect?

Definitely and I think it goes far beyond the environmental impacts.

For example, for one of the races I was in Senegal, and the legacy there is for them to plant a million mangrove trees, because they're very effective for carbon capture in the environment.

I was speaking to a local guy when we were on a boat trip and planting the trees and he was saying to me that during COVID it was really difficult in their local economy as it's quite a poor area.

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He said that they would have found it very difficult to have jobs as local people, and that this has employed him for a couple of years. And through that he's actually had money to send his children to school, but it's also increasing the biodiversity of the fish in the water there, which is pretty much the whole income for that town, so that they have a better income round.

You have the social impacts of the places that we visit, as well, which has been cool to be on the ground for.

When we were in Saudi Arabia, they said that just clearing the beach that we cleared and providing the infrastructure and the support for the turtles that hatch there, they have enough now to actually regenerate the whole population of sea turtles in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. So it's massive work that they're doing and it's all headed up by leading scientists as well.

I think we have the world's number one marine biologist on our scientific committee, and he comes to all of the races.

He said Extreme E has opened doors that he hasn't been able to open personally because obviously he hasn't had the voice and the impact that Extreme E has.

It's been attractive for local governments to have this kind of championship visiting that area. And he said that actually from a scientific side, it's led him to opportunities of doing projects that he's wanted to do for a really long time that he hasn't been able to do in some areas.

You attended COP26 earlier at the beginning of November. From an Extreme E perspective, how important will the sport and the technology it derives be in terms of improving electric road vehicles which seems a crucial part of the plan for the years ahead?

I think it's something that we see with the engineers that attend from Williams Advanced Engineering and Spark Racing Technology, who built the car, and they're learning stuff every race.

I mean we're testing them in the most remote locations so I'm sure we're gonna see SUV manufacturers come on board as team partners in the next few years and hopefully it will inspire people that their electric vehicles are just as capable, if not more, than their petrol and combustion engines.

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One of the cool things that I've been learning about this year is the hydrogen fuel cells that we have as well. We're not running diesel generators out the back of these electric cars. I think the only byproduct is water from a process of splitting the hydrogen and the oxygen and whatever. I'm not a scientist, but that that is literally the only byproduct that comes out of that and I believe we then pump that water around to wash the cars before they go in the garage!

I think that's really important technology that they're developing.

At the end of the day, it needs to be attractive to the younger audience to make that switch faster and sport is a really good way of doing that.

And especially for electric vehicles, it makes it appealing and you kind of put faith in it, if you see these cars flying over the desert you think, 'okay, they are pretty robust them.'

To find out more about Catie Munnings, head to her athlete profile page on RedBull.com

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