Newcastle’s Go-Ahead in carbon neutral pledge

Newcastle-headquartered bus and rail giant Go-Ahead Group said on Wednesday it has set out a strategy “to lead the transport industry in carbon reduction by achieving a 75% cut in emissions by 2035, and by becoming a fully carbon neutral company by 2045.”

Go-Ahead said the exacting targets “are the most ambitious in the industry and will be achieved through a combination of investment in zero-carbon technology, a crackdown on waste and a significant increase in reuse and recycling of materials.”

Submitted to the Science Based Targets Initiative for ratification, Go-Ahead said the timetable is in keeping with an overall mission set under the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050.

“Changes to Go-Ahead’s business will be accompanied by initiatives to encourage active travel, and the company today calls on the Government to encourage a shift from car use to walking, cycling and public transport,” said Go-Ahead.

At the heart of Go-Ahead’s strategy will be a wholesale shift in technology from diesel power to zero-carbon modes of transport – including electric and hydrogen power.

Go-Ahead said “calling points” along its road to decarbonisation include:

  • Converting Go-Ahead’s entire fleet of 5,000 UK buses to zero emission vehicles by 2035
  • A decarbonized rail fleet by 2035
  • Improvements to air quality by 2025 through a 17% drop in carbon monoxide emissions, a 49% cut in hydrocarbons, a 63% fall in nitrogen oxides and a 55% cut in particulate matter from vehicles
  • A 25% reduction in water use by 2025 through a significant reduction in leakage, together with responsible management in all operations
  • A significant improvement in energy efficiency at all Go-Ahead premises by 2035
  • Reduction of overall waste volumes and recycling of 60% of waste by 2025

Go-Ahead said that since 2016, it has already achieved a 22% reduction in emissions, in spite of expansion of the business.

Go-Ahead is ranked ‘A minus’ by the Carbon Disclosure Project – the highest of any UK transport operator.

Go-Ahead CEO David Brown said: “Climate change is the number one challenge facing society and in order to address it, we must make radical changes to the way we travel.

“If we’re serious about protecting the health of our planet, then businesses such as Go-Ahead must show leadership.

“Our climate change plan is ambitious but deliverable, and is consistent with international goals of limiting any increase in global temperature to 1.5°C.

“We will play our part by decarbonising our business and by investing in environmentally sustainable technology.

“We hope our commitment will be matched by a broader shift in public policy on transport by encouraging people to walk or cycle where possible, use buses and trains as an alternative but only use a car if absolutely necessary.”