Eighty electric days around the world
Geneva, 18 August 2010 - Is it possible to complete a tour of the world in 80 days with electric cars?
Teams from three continents have decided to find out, in a modern, eco-friendly twist on Jules Verne's classic adventure. The cars are currently heading towards Germany, after starting their adventure from the United Nations building in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday.
Once the near-silent engines kicked in at the Palais des Nations, the futuristic vehicles set off on what organisers claim is the "longest and greenest race" of all time. All emissions produced by the Zero Race team during their trip will be off-set through investments in renewable energy projects.
The race is the brainchild of adventurer and environmentalist Louis Palmer, who, in 2008, became the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a solar car. This time around, Palmer hopes the four teams from Switzerland, Australia, South Korea and Germany will help raise awareness about green transport and renewable energy.
The race will also include a pit-stop at UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Cancun, Mexico from 29 November - 10 December 2010.
In a letter of support to Louis Palmer, United Nations Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner wrote, "I have followed with interest the environmental aspect of the race. Such a clean-technology initiative underscores the importance of individual efforts in building a green, low carbon future for the world."
UNEP representative Ivonne Higuero was among those waving off the electric cars from the starting grid in Geneva. "People around the world must understand the urgency of implementing concrete solutions to turn the challenges of high fuel prices, increased imports and climate change into an opportunity for the world economies, businesses and citizens. The exciting, live experience of the Zero Race shows that renewable energies are reliable, affordable and ecologically responsible" said Ms. Higuero.
UNEP will follow the Zero Race teams closely and report on their progress and challenges along the way.
The organisers hope the cars will return to Geneva in January 2011 - having completed their trail-blazing route and earning themselves a place in the environmental record books.