Union Pacific Commits to Net Zero By 2050 - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, GHG Emissions  -  December 6, 2021

Union Pacific Commits to Net Zero By 2050

Union Pacific Railroad announced its first climate action plan outlining its approach to achieving net zero GHG emissions by 2050.

"As the world takes action to address climate change, Union Pacific is taking thoughtful and deliberate steps to improve our environmental footprint," said Lance Fritz, CEO of Union Pacific, in a statement. "We experience first-hand the effects of climate change and are urgently working toward our shared sustainable future."

In February 2021 Union Pacific received approval from the Science Based Target initiative for its target to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 26% from its operations by 2030 from a 2018 baseline. The approved target aligns with what climate scientists say is needed to meet the Paris Agreement, limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Union Pacific's Climate Action Plan highlights the following efforts to significantly reduce GHG emissions:

  • Improve operational efficiency and minimize fuel consumption with a more efficient locomotive fleet and energy management technology.
    • Invested roughly $3.4 billion to purchase more than 1,300 new locomotives since 2010, while retiring about 2,500 older, less fuel-efficient locomotives.
    • Energy Management System (EMS), which acts like cruise control, helps identify fuel-saving opportunities and has been implemented in roughly two-thirds of the active road fleet.
  • Promote rail as the environmentally preferable surface transportation solution and explore emerging supply chain circularity opportunities.
    • Engaging customers to understand their sustainability goals and identify opportunities to transition to rail, the most fuel-efficient way to move freight over land. 
  • Decarbonize Union Pacific's environmental footprint by increasing the use of low-carbon fuels and innovating with alternative propulsion methods and nature-based solutions.
    • Working to increase the percentage of low-carbon fuels consumed to 10% of total diesel consumption by 2025 and 20% by 2030.
    • Leveraging experience with low-emissions switcher locomotive technology to develop specifications for a battery-electric locomotive that could be deployed in selected yard operations.

The company plans to reevaluate its progress and targets in 2025 or sooner to ensure it is aligned to the latest climate science, leading to a low carbon future.

"We continue to work with our supply chain partners to develop sustainable solutions, and we are engaging others in the rail industry to solve these difficult problems," said Fritz. "Union Pacific intends to be a significant contributor to the overall solution."


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