UP Issues 2020 ESG Report

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor

Union Pacific (UP) has released an annual report on environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, outlining its new strategy, “Building a Sustainable Future 2030.”

The report—which also includes the railroad’s Fact Book and summarizes its financial performance (download the 2020 Building America Report below)—covers four key areas of UP’s new strategy:

• Investing in our Workforce. The Class I railroad discusses its employee base, including new diversity and inclusion initiatives.
• Driving Sustainable Solutions. This section details UP’s $2.8 billion investment to harden its infrastructure and support growing customer and community needs, as well as its record for moving wind turbine components.
• Championing Environmental Stewardship. The railroad addresses its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) targets, approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative in January 2021. It also highlights its role helping a community recycle more than 1.2 million plastic bottle caps.
• Strengthening our Communities. UP covers its Community Ties Giving Program, which provided COVID-19 relief to areas its serves, and the railroad’s $423 million spend on goods and services from more than 275 diverse suppliers in 35 states.

Over the next 10 years, UP looks to develop new initiatives to recruit, develop and retain a diverse workforce; create a seamless customer experience as well as opportunities for companies to leverage rail; continue actions that achieve GHG emission reductions, consistent with science-based-targets; and increase support of minority- and women-owned businesses and philanthropic aid, according to the report.

The four areas of concentration for UP’s “Building a Sustainable Future 2030” strategy serve as a “roadmap to address our most material ESG risks, while building on a foundation of safety—our No. 1 priority,” UP Chairman, President and CEO Lance Fritz wrote in the 2020 Building America Report’s letter to stakeholders. “The importance of ESG can be seen in our reaction to climate change. We’re committing to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions from our operations 26% by 2030 against a 2018 baseline. These targets were approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative in early 2021, and put our company in an even greater strategic position as we work to support global climate change goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

“Our approach to developing and implementing new technology will help us further reduce our carbon footprint, as will maintaining equipment and training employees in environmentally responsible behaviors. This requires long-term planning and commitment; however, we’re making short-term plans, too. We continue to reduce the size of our locomotive fleet as we operate longer trains, and anticipate further opportunities to grow train size. Our Energy Management Systems on locomotives help us identify opportunities to save fuel, and we’re using automatic shutdowns for locomotives, rather than leaving them idle in yards. We’ve tasked senior leaders in Engineering, Mechanical and Operating to identify more ways—both near- and long-term—to drive meaningful change.”

Download UP’s 2020 Building America Report:

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