MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO, CANADA. — Reducing carbon emissions, setting science-based targets, resource stewardship and sustainability reporting are the four strategic actions behind a new unified commitment laid out by a coalition of Canadian companies that includes Canadian National Railway (CN) focused on protecting the environment and ensuring a sustainable, equitable and healthy future for all Canadians.

The plan, which is aligned with the Paris Climate Accord, has been signed by CN, Maple Leaf Foods and Celestica Inc.

The companies have committed to addressing four key areas in their own sustainability strategy, including:

  • Reducing carbon emissions: “We recognize the threat of climate change and the devastating consequences it has on the future of the planet,” the companies said. “We acknowledge the urgent need to act, and we commit ourselves to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions aggressively as we transition to a low-carbon economy.”
  • Setting science-based targets: “We are each among the eight companies in Canada and the 526 companies globally that have set emissions reductions targets through the Science Based Targets initiative in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and climate science,” the companies noted. “We believe that corporations can play a major role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and we have set targets aligned with climate science to future-proof our growth.”
  • Resource stewardship: “We are committed to ensuring our company operations follow sustainable practices to ensure our products and services are responsibly sourced, manufactured and distributed to Canadians,” the companies said. “We believe in ensuring a healthy future and healthy planet for generations to come and pledge to minimize our environmental footprint and restore the planet.”
  • Sustainability reporting: “We are measuring our performance and reporting on our emissions reduction initiatives to track our progress and uphold corporate responsibility and transparency with Canadians,” the companies said.

JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer of CN, said the railway company recognizes the responsibility it has to act in the interests of future generations.

“As a historic nation building company and a modern trade enabler, we are motivated to ensure an environmentally sustainable future for all Canadians by offering sustainable transportation solutions to our customers and supply chain partners,” Ruest said. “We are committed to playing a key role in the transition to a low carbon economy.”

A day before the coalition’s announcement, CN was recognized for leadership in corporate sustainability by global environmental non-profit CDP, securing a place on the group’s prestigious “A List” for tackling climate change.

CN was recognized for its actions to cut emissions, mitigate climate risks and develop the low-carbon economy, based on the data reported by the company through CDP’s 2020 climate change questionnaire.

“We are proud to be recognized by the CDP for the eleventh straight year,” Ruest said. “Our goal is to conduct our operations with minimal environmental impact while providing cleaner, more sustainable transportation services to our customers. Since 1993, we have reduced our locomotive emission intensity by 40%, avoiding over 46 million tonnes of GHG emissions. CN’s 2020 CDP response outlines our commitment to support the transition to a low carbon future, complementing our on-going discussions with investors and the work we do with our customers on the matter of climate change.”

Maple Leaf Foods became the world’s first major carbon neutral food company in 2019 and is the only food company in Canada to adopt science-based emissions targets that are aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

“If we can do it, others can, too,” said Michael McCain, president and CEO of Maple Leaf. “We are proud to be a leader in sustainability and urge Canadian organizations to join us in our ambitious goal and take meaningful action to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and nurture a better planet for all.”