Union Pacific issues US$600m in Green Bonds to fund sustainable investments

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US railroad Union Pacific has issued a US$600m green bond offering to fund investments aimed at decarbonizing the company’s footprint and achieving set emissions reduction targets.

The bonds underscore Union Pacific’s commitment to achieving its climate-action goals: reducing absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions and Scope 3 GHG emissions on a well-to-wheel basis from locomotive operations 26% by 2030 from a 2018 baseline, and net zero by 2050.

As outlined in the company’s Green Financing Framework, expenditures to be funded with proceeds from the green bond offerings may include, but are not limited to: new battery-electric locomotives; locomotive modernizations that reduce GHG emissions and increase fuel efficiency; expansion of intermodal facilities, which can promote modal shift of freight to lower-carbon alternatives such as rail; new sidings and siding extensions, which increase train length and reduce dwell time; and investment in and/or development of onsite or offsite generation and distribution of renewable energy from solar or wind sources.

Infrastructure and rolling stock for railway lines dedicated to the transportation of fossil fuels do not qualify for proceeds from the green bonds.

“Today’s announcement emphasizes the importance of our commitment to building a sustainable future for generations to come,” said Lance Fritz, chairman, president, and CEO of Union Pacific. “When it comes to finding ways to decarbonize our footprint, every idea is on the table. We are acting now on our most promising avenues to make progress toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and investing in technology to support future initiatives.”

While Union Pacific works to further reduce its environmental footprint, it is important to note railroads already are one of the most fuel-efficient means of transportation. Moving freight by rail instead of truck reduces GHG emissions by up to 75%. On average, Union Pacific moves a ton of freight 463 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel.