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Class I railroads earn environmental accolades

CSX, CN, Canadian Pacific make annual list assessing ESG adherence

Three Class I railroads received kudos from third-party sustainability indices. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

A number of Class I railroads have recently earned recognition for efforts to follow guidelines promoting environmental, social and governance (ESG) values. Rail technology provider Wabtec also received accolades for its battery-electric locomotives.

The Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index (DSJI) named CSX (NASDAQ: CSX), Canadian Pacific (NYSE: CP) and CN (NYSE: CNI) to its annual list of companies to achieve high scores on S&P Global’s Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA). 

More than 10,000 publicly traded companies are invited to participate in the assessment, which evaluates how companies address sustainability through economic performance, environmental stewardship, social responsibility and corporate governance.

The North American index represents 20% of the largest 600 North American companies in the S&P Global Broad Market Index, according to CN. 

“As a growing number of our customers focus on reducing their carbon footprint, CSX is committed to helping them achieve their goals through the environmental advantages of rail,” President and CEO Joe Hinrichs said in a Tuesday news release for CSX, which has been on the list for 12 consecutive years.

“Moving freight by rail is three to four times more fuel-efficient than trucking, which enables our customers to achieve their sustainability goals by leveraging CSX’s rail-based supply chain solutions.”


CN said Monday that it has been selected for inclusion on both of Dow Jones’ North American and global sustainability indices. 

“We understand we play an important role in moving the economy and delivering the goods needed in communities across the continent,” CN President and CEO Tracy Robinson said.  “Our dedicated team of railroaders is committed to making sustainability an essential part of the way we do our work every day.”

CN’s goals include reducing Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity by 43% by 2030, with 2019 serving as a base year, and reducing Scope 3 GHG emissions intensity from fuel- and energy-related activities by 40% by 2030.

CP also said it made both global and North American sustainability indices this year. This is the first year the company made the world index and the third consecutive year for the North American index.

“At CP, we continuously challenge ourselves to innovate across our business and develop meaningful ways to serve our customers, each other and the communities we operate in and through,” CP President and CEO Keith Creel said. “We are proud to be recognized again as a sustainability leader by the DJSI and [remain] committed to delivering on our sustainability journey.”

In addition to the sustainability indices, CP and CN also said they made CDP’s A-list for the year. CDP is a global nonprofit headquartered in London that has developed a disclosure system enabling investors, companies and localities to manage their environmental impacts. 

“Achieving the A List on what is widely recognized as the gold standard of corporate environmental transparency is a testament to CN’s commitment to minimizing our impact on the environment and providing cleaner, more sustainable transportation services to our customers,” CN’s Robinson said. 

CP said its CDP rating is based on the railroad’s performance data in 2021, which included enhanced disclosure on board-level oversight of climate-related issues, its climate transition plan and science-based, GHG emissions reduction targets.

Climate-related initiatives at CP this year included applying an internal price on carbon in business decisions, utilizing the railroad’s carbon reduction task force in decision-making and releasing a carbon emissions calendar for customers. 

CN has been on CDP’s A list seven times, while CP garnered a spot twice.

As CSX, CN and CP received recognition for their sustainability efforts, Kansas City Southern said Tuesday its Shreveport, Louisiana, operation has received International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification for two categories — environmental and occupational health and safety. 

“KCS is playing a leading role in the railroad industry of pursuing and securing ISO certification for health, safety and environmental management systems, and I’m so proud of the team’s efforts to continuously evaluate, measure and improve the safety of our operation for employees, customers and the communities we serve,” said Kayden Howard, KCS vice president for health, safety and environmental.

KCS said the process to receive ISO certification at the Shreveport yard in 2019, while also creating a health, safety and management system, is structured in such a way “so that health, safety and environmental risk is proactively addressed and embedded in business operations, allowing KCS to have justifiable confidence in risk management processes. The system was developed to be adaptable and transferrable to other KCS locations throughout the U.S. and Mexico network.”

Meanwhile, Wabtec (NYSE: WAB) said its FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive earned Commercial Technology of the Year at the 24th Platts Global Energy Awards ceremony last week in New York City.

“Judges noted the 100% battery-powered, heavy-haul locomotive is a first of its kind and foresee the technology will make a positive impact on the future of energy,” Wabtec said in a LinkedIn post.

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.