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2015 GHG Emissions Scorecard


Overall drop in CO₂ emissions


Drop in electricity-based emissions


Of emissions-reduction goal

A look at 2015 GHG emissions

Overall GHG decline

Norfolk Southern’s total greenhouse gas emissions – Scope 1 direct emissions and Scope 2 indirect emissions – declined by nearly 2 percent in 2015.

The decrease reflects a 2.4 percent drop in business volume as measured by revenue ton-miles of freight moved by NS’ diesel-burning locomotive fleet, the main source of NS’ direct GHG emissions. In addition, NS reduced by 6.1 percent its Scope 2 emissions related to electricity use at railroad offices and facilities. This drop is attributed mainly to a milder winter, systemwide energy efficiency improvements, and the midyear closure of the company’s Roanoke corporate office, part of an initiative to streamline business operations.

Update on GHG goal

In 2010, NS set a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 10 percent per revenue ton-mile. As measured against 2009 baseline emissions, the railroad in 2015 achieved a cumulative emissions reduction of 8 percent per RTM – down from 8.5 percent in 2014. Contributing to the slip were network congestion in the first half of the year and a changing business mix that included more time-sensitive freight, resulting in higher horsepower moves that increased locomotive fuel burn and emissions.

Locomotives in 2015 accounted for 90 percent of NS’ total GHG emissions, or nearly 5 million metric tons. NS’ goal is to reduce GHG emissions by 3 grams of CO₂ per RTM over the 2010 baseline. The company reduced cumulative emissions by 2.41 grams per RTM in 2015, compared with 2.56 grams in 2014. Initiatives designed to meet a fuel-efficiency goal set in 2015 will advance NS’ efforts to reduce its GHG emissions.

Progress on energy emissions

During the year, NS achieved a 7 percent reduction in non-locomotive Scope 1 emissions related to the use of fuels other than diesel, such as natural gas, propane, and coal. Nearly half of that reduction is associated with the company’s reduced use of coal for power, including the elimination of coal-fired boilers in an energy-conversion project at Juniata Locomotive Shop.

Customer recognizes NS’ sustainable rail solution

Customer Eastman Chemical Company presented Norfolk Southern with supplier sustainability and innovation awards in 2015 for a rail-based transportation solution that helped Eastman reduce its supply-chain carbon emissions and shipping costs.

NS’ intermodal business group worked with Eastman’s global logistics group in 2014 to offer rail transport of Eastman specialty plastics and wood-based products from an intermodal port facility in Greer, S.C., to the port of Charleston. Prior to the rail option, Eastman moved these containerized products by truck from its Kingsport, Tenn., plant to Charleston for export. The NS solution removed 212 miles of truck transport.

“The Norfolk Southern intermodal group made sure this was a value proposition that made sense for Eastman,” said Debbie Davis Waltermire, Eastman’s director of global logistics procurement. “Eastman has goals around sustainable growth and improved carbon footprint, and we felt that this gives us supply-chain efficiencies that allow for sustainable growth.”

NS partnered with the South Carolina Ports Authority to provide rail service at the upland S.C. inland port facility, which opened in fall 2013. NS rail service between Greer and Charleston is helping to reduce supply-chain emissions of other customers, including BMW, Adidas, Michelin, and John Deere.

Reducing shippers’ carbon footprint

Shippers can reduce their supply-chain carbon emissions by moving products by rail instead of highway. Norfolk Southern’s “Green Machine,” a carbon footprint analyzer found on NS’ website, offers shippers a quick estimate of carbon savings. On average, trains are four times more fuel-efficient and generate 75 percent fewer emissions than trucks.

NS Business Emissions

Total Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions
of carbon dioxide equivalents

(Million Metric Tons)

Emissions per revenue ton-mile


Total revenue ton-miles of freight


Total railway operating revenues

(Billions USD)

NS 2015 Emissions

(in Metric Tons CO2 equivalents)

CO2 5,219,275 249,253
CH4 10,052 107
N2O 38,884 1,166
HFC, PFCs, SF6 0 0
Total 5,268,211 250,526

NS 2015 Emissions by source

pie 1.3% OTHER73,735 metric tons(natural gas, coal, propane, kerosene, jet fuel) 92.6% DIESEL5.1 M metric tons(Locomotive, biodiesel, nonlocomotive, fuel oil) 1.6% GASOLINE86,743 metric tons(on-road vehicle, nonvehicle uses) 4.5% ELECTRICITY250,526 metric tons


Corporate leader in GHG disclosure

For the second consecutive year, Norfolk Southern in 2015 was named a U.S. leader in disclosing greenhouse gas emissions and climate-change information to investors and the marketplace through CDP, an environmental nonprofit. NS achieved a score of 99 out of 100 for carbon disclosure to earn a place on CDP’s 2015 S&P Climate Disclosure Leadership Index. The railroad scored within the top 10 percent of Standard & Poor’s 500 Index companies that disclose information to CDP.