What can a marathon teach us about combatting climate change?

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At Schneider Electric we are extremely proud to be voted the World’s Most Sustainable Corporation earlier this year*, inspired by many professionals in the industry and hopefully inspiring more businesses and individuals to be more sustainable. What we’ve all collectively achieved ahead of COP26 is only a start. With energy representing 73% of global greenhouse gas emissions we still have a long way to go to reduce its impact. And at Schneider we are leveraging the power of electrification and digitalization to drive a significant reduction in carbon emissions, fast.

This is one of the reasons behind our title sponsorship of The Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris, the world’s first 100% carbon neutral marathon. It brings runners together to take responsibility for their carbon footprints, reduce emissions and race for a greener, smarter future. On the surface, a marathon and climate change might appear to not have much in common. But dig a little deeper and this endurance exercise fit for Olympians can teach us quite a few things about how we approach our battle against climate change.

  1. Leading by example 

The sheer amount of time, effort and dedication required to train for and win a marathon is what inspires and motivates many of the top runners. Likewise, it takes a collective commitment to win the race toward a greener and smarter future. We are very proud of our Schneider Electric Green Runners community, a global group of environmentally conscious running enthusiasts who take action throughout the year to reduce our environmental impact. This community of employees, customers and partners train and run together to make a difference for our planet.

As a long-standing sponsor of the Marathon de Paris and a sustainability leader, we are committed to supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We seek to deliver on ambitious climate and biodiversity targets, while engaging with the broader global business ecosystem on this journey. In the same spirit, the Schneider Electric Green Runners community aims to inspire runners all over the world to make a positive impact on the environment, paving the way for others to follow in their footsteps.

  1. Climate action is a marathon, not a sprint

Training for a marathon and achieving net zero require careful planning, preparation, the right tools to get the job done and technology to measure our progress to the goal. In the same way, the fight against climate change is not a sprint but a marathon without the finish line. We are committed to leading this race and being part of the solution for a more sustainable world. .

If we look at existing buildings as an example of this notion – they are the single largest energy consumer in Europe. Responsible for approximately 40% of energy consumption and 36% of the greenhouse gas emissions, they must be gradually transformed into net zero buildings of the future.  It is our mission to support the planning and preparation of home builders and construction companies, with the help of technology such as smart grid solutions that will help power buildings with clean and resilient electricity to help them decarbonise. At the same time, we also want to provide homeowners with the right technology to reduce energy consumption and become more reliant on renewable energy sources on their rooftops and save energy where practicable – with the help of cutting-edge energy management systems.

  1. Commitment, resilience & accountability

Marathon runners are an inspiring example of the level of commitment to training required in order to achieve their goal. The resilience they show on race day in the face of adversity to cross that finish line are attributes we need to adopt and consider when tackling climate change. We must show total commitment to reaching our net zero goal and halve our carbon emissions by 2030. In fact, we need to increase our current efforts by 3-5 times if we are to achieve our goal – and just like a marathon runner we must be resilient, accountable and address this challenge head-on.

Personally, I believe that positive change starts at home. We now spend most of our time at our dwellings therefore consume most energy here.  Although we must take action to reduce our carbon footprint, we want to use innovation and technology to have the least amount of impact on people’s lifestyles. For example, the rise in energy bills over the past 18 months is a direct result of people spending more time at home – as well as still lacking alternative renewable energy sources in the home. By having accurate information at our fingertips about how much energy our homes are consuming at the device level, we can monitor our energy usage and make informed decisions.

  1. Make the invisible – visible

Marathon runners use different wearable technology to better inform their running strategy. It helps them assess the weather conditions, the gradient of their run and breakdown their own training data. Today technology helps us analyse data and determine whether we are staying on track and keeping pace on various aspects of our life.

When it comes to our households, Schneider Electric’s Wiser is the equivalent of a Fitbit for the home. Like how a smartwatch or wearable evaluates our body’s data and determines how it is burning calories, Wiser helps us see the invisible energy flowing throughout the home – and determines the optimum settings for our homes to keep us comfortable – while keeping the greenhouse emissions in check through increased use of renewable energy where possible. What becomes very clear as we start measuring our energy consumption in the home is that a lot of it is often lost. Energy waste is the invisible foe we can all fight in our homes with the help of modern technology.

The Wiser Energy Centre, does a similar job for our homes, taking multiple factors into account, including time, the weather, and even the energy tariff and consumption patterns to help avoid wasting energy and better tackle climate change.

  1. Believe in ourselves

Training for, running, completing, and winning a marathon are all different levels of challenges, and along the way you can expect adverse conditions like weather or unforeseen obstacles.  We know the global warming target we aspire to is 1.5⁰C,  and we also know that we are off the pace currently and need to move 3-5 times faster to reach the net zero goal. But picking up pace in a longer race is much harder! And this is what marathon preparation can teach us.


Starting from 17 athletes at the first organised marathon in 1896 Olympics, today we have multiple marathons around the world, including the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris which saw 60,000 registered runners from 145 countries this past week, as the run resumed for the first time after the pandemic hit the world. Today, we question our ability to tackle climate change within the right timeframe. It will serve us well to remember that the human ability to run marathons has been questioned in the past. But time has proven that our assumptions and expectations weren’t realistic or accurate. Therefore, I’m convinced we can overcome this challenge with the right attitude, right mindset and the right technology. We can do it together. There is no time to waste.


Did you miss our Press Conference at Paris Marathon? – Watch here

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