Transportation is one of the biggest sources of emissions. While automakers and airlines are looking for alternative fuels to mitigate their impact, such as algae jet fuel, biofuel and electric vehicles, looking back to a pioneer form of transportation could give us some inspiration. Enter the train, that icon of the Industrial Revolution, whose modern versions in Europe provide one of the best, and most sustainable, forms of transportation to people in the old continent. In 2010, Europe scored 397.8 passenger/kilometers while in the U.S. the equivalent figure was 17.2.
Although commuter demand for public transportation is increasing in the U.S. with 10.5 billion trips in 2012, demand for rail lags behind, despite more investments in network expansions. Suburbanites still prefer driving, apparently. However, demand for U.S. freight rail can reach massive figures . For the first 24 weeks of 2013, U.S. railroads moved 5.77 million intermodal containers and trailers, an increase of 3.9% from last year. As a cleaner form of transport, it can help the country decrease its emissions related to transport. Furthermore, it can generate social benefits. For those interested in learning more about the positive social and environmental impact of rail, one good place to start is CSX. The company has just released its 2012 CSR report, detailing its actions in the sector. CSX is one of the biggest rail service providers in the U.S.
“Operating a sustainable, transparent company is an important element of this commitment, and our CSR report demonstrates how we put these values into practice. It’s also evidence that CSX’s environmental stewardship and employee and community engagement work in tandem with our continued strong financial and operational performance,” said Michael J. Ward, chairman, president and chief executive officer.
The report chronicles how the company is working to reduce its GHG emissions between 6 and 8 percent from 2011 levels by 2020. It also highlights its investments in clean technologies and its training of its 30,000 employees in environmental stewardship programs.
CSX says it continued to support local communities where it operates and contribute to their diversity and strength through various initiatives, including hiring veterans (26 percent of the workforce), employee volunteer time (26,000 hours) and partnerships with several charities.
The company made capital investments of $2.3 billion in 2012, including investments related to public-private partnerships, and plans to make to invest the same amount in 2013.
The CSR report was prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3.1 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, and is self-declared as a GRI Application Level B report. GRI is a globally recognized reporting framework for environmental, social and governance performance. It is available through this microsite.
Image credit: CSX