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Michael Woods goes carbon neutral for 2021

FAYENCE FRANCE FEBRUARY 20 Arrival Michael Woods of Canada and Team Israel StartUp Nation celebrate during the 53rd Tour Des Alpes Maritimes Et Du Var Stage 2 a 1689km stage from Fayence to Fayence 357m letour0683 on February 20 2021 in Fayence France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) will race carbon neutral this season, pledging to offset emissions linked to his travel and nutrition. 

The Canadian has calculated that, over the course of 2019, his carbon footprint amounted to 60 tons of CO2, roughly three times that of the average person in his region. 

"This was very disturbing for me to see, and it has made me realise that moving forward I need to make some serious changes in my lifestyle," Woods said in an announcement this week. 

As well as making changes in his personal life, Woods is pledging to offset emissions linked to his profession, which are considered 'unavoidable'. He will do this through financial contributions to the climate organisation Gold Standard, calculated according to his emissions tally.

"Riding has really opened my eyes to how beautiful the planet is and I want to do my part in protecting it," said Woods, who acknowledged the disparity between riding as a 'green' activity and professional racing as a major polluter.

"I fly to races regularly and have a convoy of cars and trucks following my every move. I sit on a massive bus at the end of each stage, and go through countless plastic bottles and packaged goods. I consume vast volumes of food, including large quantities of meat, and go through far more clothing than the average person," he said. 

"I love my job, but it’s hard to deny that the cost of my performance, and the impact it has on the planet, is significant."

Woods says he was inspired to take action by the former rider Christian Meier, and went on to audit his lifestyle using the World Wildlife Fund’s carbon footprint calculator. Aware that 2020 was an anomalous season due to the pandemic, he broke down his entire 2019 campaign, mapping his travel, nutrition, and the support vehicles used by his team. 

"This exercise was an eye opening experience," he said. "There are some things that I have been doing well. Both Elly and I rarely use a car when we are home.

"We mainly walk or commute via bike, and we try our best to shop locally and cut down on the amount of meat that we eat, and when we do eat meat we try to always purchase meat that is raised and butchered locally.

"However, the amount of clothes and products that I consume at races, and in training, and the amount that I travel are the biggest contributors to my impact on the earth’s climate.

"From simple things such as taking a permanent knife, fork, cup and bowl with me on the road so that I am no longer using plastic utensils and plates during our post race meals, to rethinking how I eat, and travel, and paying to offset all of the carbon that I emit, for 2021 I am pledging to make this a carbon neutral season."

As Features Editor, Patrick is responsible for Cyclingnews' long-form and in-depth output. Patrick joined Cyclingnews in 2015 as a staff writer after a work experience stint that included making tea and being sent to the Tour de Langkawi. Prior to that, he studied French and Spanish at university and went on to train as a journalist. Rides his bike to work but more comfortable on a football pitch.