CSX, Union Pacific, Canadian National pledge to reduce emissions

A photograph of a train traveling through a clearing in the woods.

Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP), CSX (NYSE: CSX) and Canadian National (NYSE: CNI) are setting goals to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in part through a pledge with the global initiative Science Based Targets.

The overall goal of the three railroads, as well as other companies that have signed onto the initiative, is to limit global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The initiative is a partnership between global environmental nonprofit CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute and the World Wide Fund for Nature, with collaboration from the We Mean Business Coalition. A total of 839 companies globally have signed on to the initiative, which assesses corporate emissions reduction targets to ensure their participation in meeting Paris Agreement goals.

CSX, which announced its involvement with the initiative on March 18 and joined the initiative in January, said it aims to reduce GHG emissions intensity by 37.3% between 2014 and 2030 through investments in technologies and operational practices. CSX said that in 2018, it achieved its 2020 goal of reducing emissions intensity by 6%-8%.

“Reducing emissions is important to CSX and its customers. Rail is already the most fuel-efficient mode of freight transportation, and CSX further delivers by continuing to set fuel efficiency records,” CSX said. “CSX is the only U.S. class I railroad to have crossed the threshold of operating below one gallon of fuel-per-thousand gross ton miles, and the company is pursuing opportunities for additional improvement as part of its commitment to sustainable business practices.”

Union Pacific (UP) said last week it submitted a commitment letter to the initiative. It will use the initiative’s sectoral decarbonization approach transport tool, which models targets for direct and indirect transportation emissions.  

“As one of the nation’s largest freight railroads, it is our responsibility to act as environmental stewards, reducing emissions and enabling sustainable economic growth across our supply chain,” said UP CEO Lance Fritz. “This is a challenging task as it means examining every aspect of our operation and looking for innovative solutions while continuing to create long-term value for our shareholders, customers, employees and the communities where we operate.”

Canadian National joined the initiative in June 2017. It set a target of reducing GHG emissions per metric ton kilometer by 29% by 2030 with 2015 as a base year.