MG car club takes a shine to green machines

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Malcolm Robertson… “If we want to keep enjoying these vehicles we love so much it’s time we did something about their carbon load.” Photo: Malcolm Robertson.

IN the aftermath of the smoke that last year blanketed Canberra and the freak hail storm that damaged nearly 45,000 vehicles, dedicated member of Canberra MG Car Club Malcolm Robertson had come to a hard realisation.

“Our favourite hobby, driving MGs, unfortunately contributes to Australia’s overall emissions,” he said.

“It’s time we did something about it.”

In what he believes will be the first for a motoring club in Australia, Malcolm has instigated a new program that will aim to offset the MG club’s carbon emissions.

He still remembers the moment he fell in love with the iconic British sports cars.

“I was a young boy stuck in the backseat of a Vanguard station wagon deep in Sydney traffic,” he said.

“Nose pressed up to the window, I see pull up beside me the most beautiful car I’d ever looked at, and I noticed it had a little badge that read ‘MG’.”

“I found out it was a TF 1500, and by the late ‘60s I had bought myself one second hand as a graduate.”

Ever since, Malcolm’s passion for the cars has only grown. In 1975 he found the Canberra MG Club, first started in the late ‘60s, was next to non-existent.

“There were a few MG drivers around Canberra but none were attending meetings. Myself and a few others took charge and tried to grow the club as best we could,” he said.

It worked. Today it boasts around 250 members, and Malcom now races the cars as part of his passionate hobby.

But with the ever developing news about climate change and the last devastating Australian summer, he started thinking about the impact he and the club were having.

“Over a year our club cars will contribute several tonnes of CO2 to the Australian total,” said Malcom.

“If we want to keep enjoying these vehicles we love so much, especially in the future, it’s time we did something about their carbon load.”

Now they’ve done the maths calculating their emissions, and are partnering with reforestation organisations to plant enough trees each year that will offset the CO2 the club produces. 

They’re also adding a voluntary additional cost to the membership fee to help with the planting process.

Malcolm advocated the initiative with the help of club vice-president Kent Brown and treasurer Brian Calder, who also recognised the importance of being proactive in their carbon footprint.

“Summer last year was a real wake up call,” said Kent, a motorsport enthusiast since he was a child with MG posters covering his bedroom walls.

“We wanted to be proactive and get on the front foot now. If we do our bit we thought others might be inspired as well.”

From left, Brian Calder, Kent Brown and Peter Dalton with their classic MGs. Photo: Malcolm Robertson.

Brian also remembers how he fell in love with MG’s, a 12 year old intently watching a neighbour’s 1940s model MG. 

As another architect of the initiative, he wants the club to do its part for the environment while still enjoying the vehicles. 

“This carbon-offset initiative sits inside a broader environmental consciousness we want to advocate in our club,” said Brian

“Changing oil the right way, looking for ways we can make our hobby more renewable, it’s all an important part of taking our own responsibility.” They’re also looking at new ways to use technology in a carbon-conscious way, assessing the possibility of renewable liquid fuels to further help reduce their footprint.

President of the MG club Peter Dalton is proud of the initiative.

“We all have to do our bit,” he said.

“If MG owners want to continue to use their petrol-driven cars, they need to understand the social and environmental impact of that use and make sure they’re doing something about it.”

The four ultimately hope the new club policy might inspire others to try to do the same.

“One day when our grandchildren ask what we did during the climate emergency, we hope we can hold our head high and include the MG Car Club’s Climate Policy on the list,” said Malcolm.


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  1. Great work – from little things, big things grow. We need to see grass roots initiatives like this play their role in meeting the climate challenge, especially given the ongoing policy vacuum at the commonwealth level.

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