Union Pacific Railroad published its first comprehensive climate action plan this week. It outlines its commitment to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.
"As the world takes action to address climate change, Union Pacific is taking thoughtful and deliberate steps to improve our environmental footprint," said Lance Fritz, Chairman, President and CEO of Union Pacific. "We experience first-hand the effects of climate change and are urgently working toward our shared sustainable future."
Union Pacific's target is to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions from its operations 26% by 2030 from a 2018 baseline. The approved target aligns with what climate scientists say is needed to meet the Paris Agreement, limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.
In a news release Union Pacific's Climate Action Plan calls for:
Improve operational efficiency and minimize fuel consumption with a more efficient locomotive fleet and energy management technology.
Since 2010 UP has retired 2,500 older less fuel-efficient locomotives and invested roughly $3.4 billion to purchase more than 1,300 new locomotives. Like cruise control on a vehicle, Energy Management System (EMS) has been implemented on about 2/3 of the active road fleet to help identify fuel-savings.
Promote rail as the environmentally preferable surface transportation solution.
The company will look for opportunities to bring more customers over to rail as the most fuel-efficient way to move freight over land.
Decarbonize Union Pacific's environmental footprint by increasing the use of low-carbon fuels and innovating with alternative propulsion methods and nature-based solutions.
By 2025 the goal is to get 10% of the fleet using low-carbon fuels and increase it to 20% by 2030.. Develop specifications for a battery-electric locomotive that could be deployed in selected yard operations.
Engage stakeholders and harness Union Pacific's influence to develop and advance rail- and climate-friendly policies.
Participate in policy development with the Association of American Railroads (AAR) on climate change and sustainability. The company's newly established, employee-led business resource group called Planet Tracks will work with Union Pacific's workforce on sustainability issues.
Union Pacific plans to reevaluate its progress and targets in 2025, or sooner, to ensure it is aligned to the latest climate science.
"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," said Fritz. "Union Pacific intends to be a significant contributor to the overall solution."
For more detailed information about Union Pacific's climate action plan you can visit its ESG website and its latest sustainability report, the 2020 Building America Report.