Norfolk Southern (NS) has issued $500 million of green bonds to fund its sustainable business initiatives.
The Class I railroad reported May 12 that the move follows its recent commitment to establish an emissions-reduction target this year—in collaboration with the Science Based Targets Initiative.
NS’s Green Financing Framework (download below) outlines the projects that can be funded with proceeds from the green bond offering.
- Improving the locomotive fleet’s fuel efficiency. This can be accomplished with the purchase of new units (Modern Tier 4 compliant high-horsepower or equivalent), and the acquisition and installation of technology and/or devices that will improve efficiency, for instance.
- Investing in and expanding intermodal terminals that “promote the shift of freight from trucks to trains.”
- Using “cleaner energy” to power company operations.
- Increasing energy-efficient building and technology use. (See the “2021 Railway Age Readers’ Influential Leaders” feature, which includes honoree NS Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer Annie Adams, who has led NS’s new headquarters’ development that includes smart building technology.)
- Supporting “preservation or restoration of natural landscapes, such as reforestation projects.”
The Green Financing Framework is aligned with the Green Bond Principles 2018 and Green Loan Principles 2020, which “intend to promote integrity of the green financing market by offering guidelines that recommend transparency, disclosure and reporting in order to drive investors to allocate capital to projects that are more environmentally sustainable,” according to NS.
The railroad said it brought in Sustainalytics—a firm specializing in analyzing environmental, social, and governance risks and opportunities for the investment community—“as an independent ‘second party’ to review and verify that projects being financed by the green bonds actually carry environmental benefits.”
NS said it expects to allocate the bond proceeds over the next three years.
“Green bonds will enable us to deliver for our customers and the environment,” NS Chairman, President and CEO James A. Squires said. “In recent years, our customers have avoided 15 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually by shipping their goods and materials with Norfolk Southern. Now we are committing to do even more to help customers reduce their carbon footprint, promote cleaner air and drive long-term value for shareholders.”
“Green bonds challenge us to reduce our environmental impacts and evaluate not only where we have been, but where we want to go,” added Josh Raglin, Chief Sustainability Officer at NS. “Through innovation and collaboration with our many partners, we aim to be the transportation industry leader delivering the low-carbon economy.”
Earlier this year, Trinity Industries Leasing Co. (TILC) developed and published a new Green Financing Framework that will allow it “to issue green financing instruments, including green non-recourse ABS bonds and green loans, supported by green eligible assets.”