Vettel highlights Canada’s tar sands ‘climate crime’ with new F1 helmet

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Sebastian Vettel is using the Canadian Grand Prix weekend to draw attention to what he calls the country’s ‘climate crime’ by donning a special helmet for the Formula 1 round.

The four-time world champion also arrived on the track, each wearing a t-shirt with the message “Stop Oil Sands – Canada’s Climate Crime”.

The message refers to the controversial oil sands development in Alberta, which has been described as the largest industrial project in the world.

It involves extracting bitumen from huge open pits on land that was once home to forests.

In addition to the T-shirt, Vettel’s helmet painter Jens Munser created a design of an oil pipeline.

Vettel has tackled local issues at several races this year, including the threat of sea level change at the Miami GP.

Asked by UKTN whether he had chosen his causes through his own investigations or was now being approached by people asking for help, he insisted the former was still the case.

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“No, nobody contacted me,” he said. “I read a lot about it because I find it – fascinating, maybe that’s not the right word – but there’s a lot going on. And I think we live in a time where we’re so aware of many things.

“What is happening in Alberta is a crime because you are cutting down a lot of trees and basically destroying the place just to extract oil. And the way to do it with the oil sands, the oil sands, the mining is horrible for nature.

“And obviously Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions have also increased since they started doing that.”

Vettel explained that mining was a relatively new development, and was therefore introduced at a time when awareness of environmental issues was already high around the world.

Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, arrives on his bike

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“The site was, I think, from what I’ve read, only founded 20 years ago. I think the Prime Minister said no other country would find these resources and wouldn’t use them.

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“I think that in principle every country and every person has their opinions and position. My personal opinion is that I disagree. I think, like I said, there’s so much science around the subject that fossil fuels are going to die out, and living in a time that we’re living in now those things shouldn’t be allowed anymore, and they shouldn’t to arrive.

“So I think it’s just in principle to raise awareness of what’s going on in the first place. I think a lot of people in Canada, a lot of people around the world don’t know that, and that’s just a small gesture.

“We will also have a special helmet this weekend, highlighting the fact and I think it’s just to think about future generations and the world that we will leave in their hands once they are old enough to carry on, to I think it’s right to take care of it and not destroy it.

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After Vettel’s stance was reported in Canadian media, Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage was quick to respond, pointing to her ties to Aston Martin partner Aramco.

“I’ve seen a lot of hypocrisy over the years, but this one takes the cake,” she said on Twitter.

“A racing driver sponsored by Aston Martin, with funding from Saudi Aramco, complains about the tar sands. Saudi Aramco has the largest daily oil production of any company in the world. It is reputed to be the biggest contributor to global carbon emissions, of any company, since 1965.

“Rather than demonize the oil sands, which are on the path to net zero emissions, people could seek to reduce their own personal carbon footprint. Maybe a pedal car for Formula 1?

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