Railway organizations – Three Key Stages towards Achieving Net Zero Emissions

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January 26, 2024

With transportation accounting for a significant portion of global carbon emissions, as reported by the International Energy Agency, the urgent need for achieving net-zero mobility is now a paramount global challenge. COP26 has galvanized discussions within the railway industry and beyond. Time is of the essence, and as a pivotal player in the future of sustainable mobility, the rail sector holds a crucial role.

Evolving Landscape in the Rail Industry

The dynamics within the railway sector are rapidly changing. Accessing funding is becoming increasingly challenging for projects that do not align with stringent climate-focused regulations, policies, and investment criteria. Rising carbon prices in emissions trading schemes pose risks to carbon-intensive materials’ costs. Furthermore, investors are factoring climate strategy into their interest rates, offering financial incentives to companies that can demonstrate robust net-zero targets.

Navigating the Challenges of Climate Transition

The urgency and pace of climate change raise important questions for railway companies. How can they construct a persuasive rationale for taking climate-conscious measures? How can they effectively measure and report their performance across all operations? And most importantly, how can they implement and gauge the impact of their climate strategy? While these questions abound, there are actionable steps every railway organization can take today, regardless of their current position in the transition journey. Acting promptly not only assists in reducing irreversible climate consequences but is also crucial for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the business.

Three Crucial Stages for Rail Businesses

Establishing a Forward-Thinking Strategy

To begin, every business must comprehend its current carbon emissions – a critical initial step in decarbonization. Measuring emissions facilitates better management and cost mitigation. However, measuring shouldn’t be confined to internal operations. A transformative approach, extending to the entire value chain, is essential for effective decarbonization. This calls for a data-driven strategy adopting a holistic, total-system perspective, which is instrumental for the decarbonisation of the world’s rail networks.

Revamping Organizations for Net-Zero Delivery

Sustainability isn’t confined to isolated initiatives or programs; it affects every facet of a company’s operations. A well-conceived vision and strategy, no matter how excellent, will falter or fail without an organization and supply chain equipped for implementation. Successful decarbonization necessitates a comprehensive organizational transformation, placing climate action at the core of the company’s vision and every employee’s responsibilities. Making climate action and sustainability the starting point, rewarding it, and equipping employees with the skills to deliver on these objectives are pivotal steps in mitigating transition risks and ensuring long-term business viability.

Promoting Industry-Wide Change

Adopting a ‘total system’ approach, characterized by enhanced collaboration between governments and businesses on both national and international levels, proves instrumental in driving innovation. It also identifies opportunities for the entire value chain to incentivize the shift towards decarbonized operations. This approach fosters meaningful progress, particularly in areas such as circular approaches throughout the lifespan of railways. Such an approach enhances asset longevity, identifies efficiencies across the entire lifecycle, and minimizes large-scale waste of valuable natural resources.

Organizations like Network Rail in the UK are achieving more significant impacts by setting science-based targets, measuring not only their carbon performance but also establishing targets for their entire supply chains. Global railway and transportation organizations are equally committed to formulating eco-friendly circular procurement approaches, serving as influential catalysts of transformation across the entire value chain.

Conclusion

In the face of rising global challenges linked with carbon emissions and climate change, the train industry finds itself at a significant crossroads. As it embraces a transformative journey towards net-zero emissions, aligning with stringent regulations, fostering sustainable practices, and promoting industry-wide collaboration are essential steps to ensure a sustainable and climate-resilient future for rail transportation.

At UB Infrastructure, we’ve developed a pioneering net-zero modern method of construction tailored for retrofitting new and existing railway buildings. In addition to our commitment to sustainability, our solution places a strong emphasis on cost-effectiveness, offering savings of up to 92%, all while achieving an EPC rating of B.  Get in touch with us and discover how our cutting-edge solutions can seamlessly transform your existing structures, aligning them with modern standards of efficiency and sustainability.

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