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Network Rail

We helped the first railway organisation in the world to set science-based targets aligned to 1.5 degrees

Network Rail sets out its ambitions to be the lowest emissions railway with Carbon Intelligence

First
Railway organisation in the world to set science-based targets aligned to 1.5 degrees
Absolute Zero
by 2050

Network Rail’s emissions pathway to Net Zero

Network Rail’s ambition for Britain’s railways is to be the cleanest, greenest form of mass transport. 

With support from Carbon Intelligence, Network Rail has developed and adopted a series of carbon reduction targets, aligned to globally accepted climate science, to establish its pathway to net zero emissions. These targets span the whole of its value chain strategies set out to achieve them, working to reduce carbon emissions from its own operations and those of suppliers and customers.

Network Rail will support delivery of the UK’s legal 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target through an affordable and deliverable programme of decarbonisation and work closely with its supply chain to reduce the industry’s overall emissions.

The race to Net Zero

Science-based targets are the globally accepted standard for setting long-term carbon reduction targets and are calculated in line with the scale of reductions required to keep global temperature increase well-below 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures. By accounting for the greenhouse gas emissions that have been put into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution began, and understanding how these affect the climate, it is possible to predict how emissions should be limited to maintain levels of global warming below 2°C in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The targets that Network Rail are adopting are challenging. The rail industry is increasing services and moving from mechanical to digital technologies to better serve customers. There are plans to increase passenger and freight services and encourage more users away from roads to a more sustainable form of transport. However, this growth must be managed in a way that minimises environmental impact of Britain’s Railway.

Opting for excellence

Network Rail is one of the largest purchasers of energy in Great Britain, and as the programme for electrification of the network continues, the demand for electricity will grow. The government has set stringent targets to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint, and in order for Network Rail to successfully contribute to achieving the government target it wanted to explore what a science-based target would look like for the organisation. 

Carbon Intelligence developed a strong understanding of Network Rail through its Compliance Gap Analysis and CRC internal audit services, and therefore chose to appoint us to assist with this undertaking.

Key benefits

The vast majority of Network Rail’s Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions are from energy consumption, mainly electricity use for its infrastructure and in its buildings, and from fuel use throughout its road fleet of around 8,500 vehicles. Their science-based target means that Network Rail will have to reduce these emissions by at least 98%. Carbon Intelligence supported Network Rail to map out a roadmap to achieve this target through various means including using more renewable energy; connecting solar and wind generators to its infrastructure and buildings or by purchasing energy directly from renewable energy farms.

The strategy to achieve the emissions targets relies on Network Rail removing fossil fuels – petrol and diesel – from its fleet of 8,500 road vehicles. By 2035, Network Rail’s total vehicle fleet will be ultra-low emission. 

Network Rail’s own operational emissions account for just 3% of its global footprint. The remainder of its carbon footprint sits within the value chain – that is, the emissions of its customers, i.e. the train and freight operating companies, and suppliers. To commit to achieve its Scope 3 carbon reduction ambitions, Network Rail will work with its supply chain so that by 2025 at least 75% of its suppliers, by emissions, will have set their own science-based targets. 

Carbon Intelligence is now working with Network Rail to engage and support its supply chain directly. We are working with Network Rail’s procurement team to implement ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement standard, and are assessing individual suppliers to understand their current climate change strategies and assess their carbon intelligence based on our Six Dimensions framework. By engaging with the supply chain and asking their suppliers to set science-based targets, Network Rail’s targets will create a domino effect that we expect will produce a reduction in supply chain emissions of approximately 50% by 2030.

01

Moving away from fossil fuels

From 2020 onwards, all non-traction electricity will be sourced from renewable generation and by 2035 the entire road vehicle fleet will be using ultra-low-emission vehicles
02

Reducing Scope 3 emissions

By 2025 at least 75% of suppliers will have set their own science-based targets, halving supply chain emissions by 2030
03

Maintaining rail’s status as the cleanest form of public transport

As the public move from road to rail in an effort to reach the UK’s net zero target, Network Rail’s strategy will ensure that rail continues to be the lowest carbon form of public transport

Takeaways

Emma Watson, Senior Consultant, Carbon Intelligence:

 “Network Rail recently launched its Environmental Sustainability Strategy for 2020-2050, and these market-leading science-based targets will play a crucial role in its strategy by maintaining focus on climate change mitigation.

Network Rail’s targets span not only its own operations, but its value chain as well, focusing on its two key carbon hotspots – embodied carbon in the supply chain and traction diesel. Network Rail is directly supporting its supply chain so that by 2025 at least 75% of suppliers will have set their own science-based targets, which will help us make significant headway towards the UK’s ambition to reach net zero.” 

 

Sustainability leadership

“There can be few more important tasks than ensuring that the greenest form of mass transit becomes greener still. That’s our ambition in rail as we deliver innovations that support the UK’s net zero carbon target.

Every decision we take from new forms of powering trains, to diesel free worksites, or more efficient ways to heat and light our stations is an opportunity to make a real difference.”
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive

 

“We are very proud to have supported Network Rail to become the first railway organisation in the world to align its science-based target with 1.5 degrees. By setting ambitious targets aligned to globally accepted climate science, Network Rail has established a credible pathway to net zero emissions. Combined with the work that RSSB is undertaking to decarbonise the railway industry, the UK is leading the way in showing how to make the greenest form of mass transportation even greener.” Jonathan Sykes, Chairman, Carbon Intelligence