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CSX, CN get ‘A’ on climate action, UP releases climate plan

Only about 2% of companies earn top score from nonprofit

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Environmental disclosure nonprofit CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, on Tuesday released its list of companies leading the charge on climate change. Only 272 out of nearly 12,000 companies that disclosed information gained “A-lister” status for their efforts on climate.

Railways CN (NYSE: CNI) and CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) were among the roughly 2% of companies that earned A’s. This is Montreal-based CN’s sixth time on the A list and Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX’s ninth.

“CSX is proud to be recognized as an environmental leader in an industry that is playing an important strategic role in the low-carbon economy,” Nathan Goldman, executive vice president and chief legal officer at CSX, said in a release. “Railroads are three to four times more fuel efficient than trucks, on average, and CSX is continually developing innovative solutions for further reducing emissions by converting freight from highway to rail.”

Read: CSX, Canadian Pacific lauded for efforts to reduce GHGs

CDP gives companies scores from A to D-minus based on information disclosed, environmental risks and greenhouse gas emissions-reduction targets. CDP uses an independent methodology to assess the companies, and companies that don’t disclose enough information get an F.

JJ Ruest, president and CEO at CN, said: “Our goal is to conduct our operations with minimal environmental impact while providing cleaner, more sustainable transportation services to our customers. Since 1993, we have reduced our locomotive emission intensity by 43%, avoiding over 48 million metric tons of GHG emissions,” in a release.

“CN’s 2021 CDP response outlines our commitment to support the transition to a low carbon future, complementing our on-going discussions with investors and the work we do with our customers on the matter of climate change,” Ruest said.

The two railways listed improving operational efficiencies and using more sustainable, low- and zero-carbon fuels as strategies to reduce GHG emissions.

Read: Is compressed natural gas finally feasible for railroad applications?

CSX and CN were the only two North American railroads that made it onto CDP’s A list. Canadian Pacific (NYSE: CP), Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU) and Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) scored an A-minus, Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) scored a B and BNSF wasn’t listed.

UP made its own climate-related announcement on Monday.

Union Pacific releases climate action plan

UP committed to reaching net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 and published a climate action plan outlining how it will reach that goal.

“As the world takes action to address climate change, UP is taking thoughtful and deliberate steps to improve our environmental footprint,” Lance Fritz, chairman, president and CEO of UP, said in a release. “We continue to work with our supply chain partners to develop sustainable solutions, and we are engaging others in the rail industry to solve these difficult problems.”

UP’s GHG emissions targets include:

  • Reduce scope 1 (direct) and scope 2 (indirect) emissions by 26% by 2030, compared to 2018 levels.
  • Increase the percentage of low-carbon fuels to be 10% of total diesel consumption by 2025 and 20% by 2030.
  • Achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

UP’s plan said increasing the use of renewable diesel and biodiesel is the “most promising avenue to help UP meet its science-based target.” The company also aims to improve fleet productivity, use more energy management and idling technologies, and work with its supply chain partners to achieve low-carbon fuel goals.

“While actions outlined in our climate action plan are expected to have a positive impact on the environment, there’s no simple solution to climate change. It will require our industry and the industries we serve to work collaboratively in developing effective, scalable climate solutions. Our generation and generations to come are depending on it,” Fritz said in the plan.

WATCH: Railroads’ role in lowering emissions now and in the future

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Alyssa Sporrer

Alyssa is a staff writer at FreightWaves, covering sustainability news in the freight and supply chain industry, from low-carbon fuels to social sustainability, emissions & more. She graduated from Iowa State University with a double major in Marketing and Environmental Studies. She is passionate about all things environmental and enjoys outdoor activities such as skiing, ultimate frisbee, hiking, and soccer.