South Western Railway’s net zero targets approved by leading global climate body

South Western Railway have become the first train operator in the UK to have its carbon emission reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative.


Credit: SWR

A leading global climate body has approved SWR’s ambitious targets to become a net zero carbon train operator. Rail is already one of the greenest ways to travel, emitting far less carbon per person than travelling by car or by plane, with new research by the Rail Delivery Group suggesting rail can be up to ten times greener than driving.

SWR is determined to lead the rail industry to an even greener future. Last year, the company published Journey to a net zero future – our roadmap to 2040 announcing its commitment to hitting net zero by 2040, ten years earlier than the UK’s overall legal deadline. SWR was the first train operator to set out a robust, transparent, and cost-effective roadmap to net zero, backed by the Department for Transport. It looks not just at direct emissions, such as from trains, stations, depots and operations, but from SWR’s supply chain too. As part of its plan to deliver on this net zero commitment, the operator submitted its carbon emission reduction targets to the SBTi for independent scrutiny and approval.

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is a leading global authority which helps companies like SWR to set emission reduction targets in line with the latest climate science and the Paris Agreement, the landmark international treaty on combatting climate change. The organisation has confirmed that SWR’s targets are “the most ambitious designation available through the SBTi process,” confirming that the targets are in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, as called for in the Paris Agreement.


Credit: SWR

SWR is the first train operator in the UK to have its carbon emission reduction targets approved by the SBTi, cementing its position as an industry leader in sustainability and climate action and setting a strong example for others to follow.

“In 2019, SWR emitted as much carbon as the city of Newcastle, once our supply chain is taken into account,” Amy Dickinson, Head of Sustainability at South Western Railway, said. “This makes clear the scale of the challenge, but also the opportunity we have to be better for our planet. I’m thrilled that the climate science experts at the Science Based Targets initiative have approved and praised the bold ambition of our carbon reduction targets, confirming that they are in line with keeping global warming to 1.5°C. We are the first train operator in the UK to have our targets endorsed, which is a reflection of our determination to be industry leaders in sustainability for the long term.”

The net zero roadmap is part of SWR’s wider sustainability strategy, its Journey to a Better Future plan to be ‘better for our planet, better for our places, and better for our people’ across the region it serves. This includes the commitment to become nature positive as well as net zero, ensuring that SWR plays its part in halting and reversing nature and biodiversity decline on its network.


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