Lewis Hamilton reflects on “horrifying” Australian bushfire visit
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F1 star Lewis Hamilton has reflected on his “heartbreaking” visit to areas in NSW affected by the bushfires that ravaged Australia for months.
The Mercedes driver touched down in Sydney from London ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix and went straight from the airport to see first-hand just what the fires had done to the country.
Hamilton announced in January he was donating $500,000 to the bushfire relief effort, with some of that money going to wildlife rescue organisation WIRES, which was working to save animals that had been affected by the natural disaster.
I had the incredible opportunity to visit NSW, Australia to see the admirable work @WIRES_NSW is doing to care, rehabilitate and preserve the country’s native wildlife following the recent, devastating fires. It was one of those days that really put things into perspective. 🐨 pic.twitter.com/a1wX1QYuQU— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) March 9, 2020
Hamilton shared a video on his social media channels today documenting parts of his visit, as he met with WIRES workers and got up close and personal with some of the animals in the organisation’s care.
He said he wanted “to see the devastation of the bushfires ... with your own eyes because it’s different.
“When you read about it or when you watch it on TV it looks horrifying but when you see the real devastation up close, and how vast the land is, it’s even more heartbreaking.
“Knowing over 1.5 billion animals perished during that time as well, it was really important for me to try and support some of the people out there who are trying to look after them and rescue the animals.
“I wanted to come out here and see it. It’s been a really amazing experience.”
On Instagram, Hamilton wrote: “It was one of those days that really put things into perspective.
“Over one billion animals were impacted by the fires and it’s going to take years for Australia to recover, so it’s thanks to non-profits like WIRES, an organisation I supported during the fires, that we have the resources to help preserve this beautiful country and its amazing wildlife.”
Hamilton is a passionate supporter of environmental and animal welfare issues and during the fire crisis highlighted the work being done by emergency services and charities to tackle the devastation.
“It breaks my heart to see the devastation the Australian bushfires are causing to people and animals across the country,” Hamilton posted on social media in January.
“I’m pledging $500k to support the animals, wildlife volunteers and rural fire services. If you are able to, and you haven’t already then you can donate too.
“Keep fighting Australia. I’ve spent some time speaking to people in Australia who are working at the heart of this and I’m filled with admiration for everything they are doing.”
Hamilton and his Mercedes team have recently taken steps to reduce their impact on the environment
The six-time world champion, who follows a vegan diet, sold his private jet and some of his luxury cars last year.
Mercedes followed up by announcing it was planning to have a net-zero carbon footprint by the end of the season, which starts on Sunday in Melbourne.
That would put it a decade ahead of F1’s own commitment to go carbon neutral by 2030.
“We want to be at the forefront of this change,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said.
Mercedes has also committed to have both its British bases, at Brixworth and Brackley, using renewable energy. The goal there is halving their CO2 emissions of 20,000 by 2022.
The team will also take smaller steps, such as getting rid of single-use plastic from their motorhome catering located inside F1’s paddock. Mercedes said it would offset unavoidable CO2 emissions “through gold-standard carbon offsetting”.
View this post on Instagram
Today, I had the incredible opportunity to visit NSW, Australia to see the admirable work @WIRESWildlifeRescue is doing to care, rehabilitate and preserve the country’s native wildlife following the recent, devastating fires. It was one of those days that really put things into perspective. Over one billion animals were impacted by the fires and it’s going to take years for Australia to recover, so it’s thanks to non-profits like WIRES, an organization I supported during the fires, that we have the resources to help preserve this beautiful country and its amazing wildlife. Thank you @WIRESWildlifeRescue for this opportunity, and for all that you do. 🙏🐨
A post shared by Lewis Hamilton (@lewishamilton) on Mar 9, 2020 at 2:50pm PDT
F1 has been criticised for its massive energy costs used in constructing cars, racing them, and moving teams to multiple events around the globe.
“We want our motorsport platforms to be a case study for the rapid and open-minded implementation of innovations for a more sustainable future,” Wolff said. “That goes from the hybrid and battery electric technology in our race cars, to our daily business practice at the racetrack, and in our production facilities.”
Hamilton has exchanged some of his luxury cars for hybrids and electric vehicles as part of his lifestyle change.
“Sustainability is very important to me,” Hamilton said. “I’ve also put sustainability at the heart of other ventures I’m involved in.”
- news.com.au / AP