Network Rail has announced a major step forward in tackling climate change by becoming the first railway company in the world to set the most ambitious Science-Based Targets to limit global warming.
The targets – and the plans to achieve them – have been independently verified today (29 October), meaning the company will be the first railway to commit to cutting emissions which limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – below the 2 degrees scientists declared necessary to meet the Paris Agreement.
Chief executive Andrew Haines said: “Rail is already the cleanest and greenest mode of transporting large numbers of people and goods, but we’re committed to cutting our carbon footprint even further. That’s why we’ve set carbon reduction targets backed by science rather than simply ones we think are easy to achieve. We are the first railway in the world to set targets that will help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and this shows our commitment to change. “We’re on an important journey – to support the government’s target of being net-zero by 2050, to help the country build back better as we recover from the pandemic and to help passengers and freight users make the greenest choices they can.”
Network Rail is already making progress in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. All of the energy used to power its stations, depots and offices comes from renewable sources, and a trial to move its road fleet – such as the vans needed in rail maintenance work – to electric vehicles is happening now. In addition, the company is looking at how it can use its land to generate renewable electricity as well as support biodiversity, whilst an extensive community tree planting scheme is also underway.
Around two-thirds of the railway’s emissions are generated by suppliers, so as well as working on elements within its control, the organisation is keen to work with its wider supply chain, such as manufacturing and construction companies, to help them to set their own targets.