The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) has approved Norfolk Southern’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target, which aligns with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Validation from SBTi—a joint initiative of CDP, UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and World Wide Fund for Nature—“confirms that the company’s target is consistent with reductions required to keep warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels,” NS reported on July 26.
NS has committed to achieving a 42% reduction in “scope 1 and 2” GHG intensity by 2034 from a 2019 base year.
“Achieving our target will require continued investments in our locomotive fleet along with supplier engagement,” NS Chief Sustainability Officer Josh Raglin said. “Our implementation of innovative technologies, sustainable operating practices and locomotive modernizations are part of our efforts to build a more sustainable transportation network.”
Locomotive fuel accounts for more than 90% of NS’s carbon emissions. As part of the Class I railroad’s 2015 strategic plan, it targeted an 8.6% improvement in fuel efficiency by 2020. NS said it exceeded that goal with a 9.4% improvement, “resulting in savings of more than 130 million gallons of diesel fuel and avoidance of approximately 1.3 million metric tons of emissions.”
NS also highlighted its recent sustainability initiatives:
• Issuing in May $500 million of green bonds to fund eligible green projects.
• Retiring more than 700 older, less fuel-efficient locomotives in 2020.
• Working to convert older D.C.-traction locomotives to “more reliable and efficient” A.C. units.
• Equipping locomotives with “smart energy management technology that automatically matches horsepower to trailing tonnage and track terrain, maximizing fuel efficiency using the minimum horsepower.”
• Recycling older locomotives into low-emission “Eco” models, as part of a public-private partnership program to reduce “emissions in urban communities on our rail network and enabling them to meet their Clean Air Act obligations.”
• Replacing diesel-powered overhead cranes with hybrid and fully electric cranes at NS intermodal facilities, a move that is projected to reduce emissions at those facilities by approximately 75%.