CN Commits to Net-Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor

CN has formally committed to a 2050 net-zero target for carbon emissions by joining the Business Ambition for 1.5°C and the United Nations’ Race To Zero campaigns, the Class I railroad reported on Nov. 12.

The Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is described as a “call to action from a global coalition of UN agencies and business and industry leaders, in partnership with the Race to Zero” to set science-based net-zero-aligned emissions reductions targets. So far, 1,045 companies have made the commitment.

“To avoid the most significant effects of climate breakdown, we must halve greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions before 2030, achieve net-zero emissions before 2050 and halt global temperature rise to 1.5°C,” according to the campaign.

CN’s Climate Action Plan and pledge to net zero both support the Paris Agreement.

In April 2021, SBTi—a joint initiative of CDP, UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and World Wide Fund for Nature—approved CN’s commitment to reduce scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 43% per million gross ton miles by 2030 from a 2019 base year, and to reduce scope 3 GHG emissions from fuel- and energy-related activities by 40% per million gross ton miles by 2030 from a 2019 base year.

“As a world-class transportation leader and trade-enabler, CN handles over C$250 billion worth of goods and carries more than 300 million tons of cargo annually, and is proud to be moving all these products in a sustainable way,” CN President and CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest said. “CN’s pledge to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 further builds upon our commitment to short-, medium- and long-term targets, robust and transparent climate change disclosures, and our goal to continue to lead our sector in the transition to a low-carbon economy. CN has a strong track record of fuel and carbon efficiency and, in 2020, achieved its best locomotive fuel efficiency ever—over 4% better than the previous record set in 2019—which avoided approximately 275,000 tons of emissions. We will continue to decarbonize our operations and, in turn, will enable our customers to reduce their transportation supply chain emissions and support their and our growth in sustainable products and markets.”

Ruest was a featured speaker at Railway Age’s Rail Insights USMCA conference on Nov. 11. He told Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono: “Global warming is a very real issue for supply chains. We need to railroad for customers, shareholders and our people, as well as to enable the economy and reduce emissions.”

In related developments, CN and Progress Rail have announced that they are partnering with Renewable Energy Group “to test high-level renewable fuel blends including both biodiesel and renewable diesel in support of the companies’ sustainability goals.” Also, CN is buying a Wabtec FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive for use on the Bessemer & Lake Erie portion of its network in Pennsylvania.

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