Sustainability Metrics and Frameworks

Providing detailed, transparent, and accessible information on sustainability topics is an important component of our sustainability strategy. This webpage combines data reported in our Building America Report, portions of our Proxy Statement, and other sustainability-related data points into one table that is more accessible to our stakeholders. Some of the figures and information in the following tables have been compiled and, where necessary, restated from previous sustainability reports to reflect changes in reporting. All currency-related values are reported in US dollars.

Reporting boundary: The sustainability data metrics reported for this section cover all activities consolidated for financial reporting purposes, as reported in our 10-K disclosure. Data is updated, at a minimum, on an annual basis to reflect any changes in activities, methodologies, frameworks, or data availability covered by this boundary.


Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)


Disclose the Organization's Governance around Climate-Related Risks and Opportunities

a) Describe the board's oversight of climate-related risks and opportunities.

Union Pacific’s climate actions are integrated into the company’s governance structure. The Union Pacific Board of Directors provides oversight of our sustainability strategy. The Board’s Corporate Governance, Nominating and Sustainability Committee reviews current developments in sustainability, oversees sustainability strategy development, goals, and performance, and recommends adoption of new – or modifications to existing – practices, policies and procedures.

The Board delegates to the Audit Committee oversight of the Company’s enterprise risk management program as well as the annual enterprise risk assessment, including the oversight of risks related to financial statements and financial reporting processes, sustainability, climate, cybersecurity, environmental and litigation matters, safety and compliance. The Audit Committee reviews reporting of metrics and key performance indicators regarding the Company’s safety and climate initiatives.

Other Board Committees have the sustainability oversight responsibilities as set forth in their respective Committee Charters.

Sustainability Governance Chart

b) Describe management's role in assessing and managing climate-related risks and opportunities.  

Chief Executive Officer – Provides executive direction on sustainability strategy.

Management Leadership – Our Executive Vice President – Sustainability and Strategy oversees Company strategy and sustainability efforts.

Sustainability Team – Oversees the day-to-day implementation of sustainability strategy.

Sustainability Steering Committee – Senior leaders from Law, Finance, Marketing and Sales, Operations (Mechanical & Engineering), Supply Chain, Environmental Management, Corporate Relations, Investor Relations, and Workforce Resources meet quarterly to drive decision-making, accountability and ownership of specific initiatives.Management identifies and prioritizes enterprise risks, including climate-related risks, and regularly presents them to the Board for its review and consideration. The senior executives responsible for implementation of appropriate mitigation strategies for the company’s top enterprise risks, along with the Chief Compliance Officer, provide reports directly to the Board during the year. 


Disclose the Actual and Potential Impacts of Climate-Related Risks and Opportunities on the Organization's Business, Strategy and Financial Planning

a) Describe the climate-related risks and opportunities the organization has identified over the short, medium and long-term. 

Union Pacific defines the short-term horizon as 0-3 years, the medium-term horizon as 3-10 years, and the long-term horizon as 10-30 years. With respect to climate-related risks, we are most likely to be affected in the short term by acute physical risks. As a railroad with a vast network, we are exposed to severe weather conditions and other natural phenomena, including earthquakes, hurricanes, forest fires, floods, mudslides or landslides, extreme temperatures, avalanches, and significant precipitation. Track outages and other interruptions caused by these conditions can adversely affect our rail network, potentially negatively affecting revenue, costs, and liabilities, despite efforts we undertake to plan for these events.

Chronic physical risks associated with shifting climate patterns and increased temperatures present longer-term risks.

Additionally, we are subject to transition risks involving policy and legal risks and market risks. Regulatory policies restricting our taxing emissions could significantly increase the cost of our operations and that of certain customers. We are also managing shifts in demand for fossil fuels and other commodities that are being affected by the energy transition that is underway. The medium- and long-term effects of transition risks are less certain, but we are working to better understand these impacts through our planning processes.

Climate change, including the impact of global warming and transition risks involving policy, legal risks, and market risks, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition, and liquidity over both a long-term and near-term basis:

  • Restrictions, caps, taxes, or other controls on emissions of GHGs, including diesel exhaust, could significantly increase our operating costs. Restrictions on emissions could also affect our customers that (a) use commodities that we carry to produce energy, (b) use significant amounts of energy in producing or delivering the commodities we carry, or (c) manufacture or produce goods that consume significant amounts of energy or burn fossil fuels, including chemical producers, farmers and food producers, and automakers and other manufacturers.
  • Significant cost increases, government regulation, or changes of consumer preferences for goods or services relating to alternative sources of energy, emissions reductions, and GHG emissions could materially affect the markets for the commodities we carry and demand for our services, which in turn could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition, and liquidity.
  • Government incentives encouraging the use of alternative sources of energy also could affect certain of our customers and the markets for certain of the commodities we carry in an unpredictable manner that could alter our traffic patterns, including, for example, increasing royalties charged to producers of PRB coal by the U.S. Department of Interior and the impacts of ethanol incentives on farming and ethanol producers.
  • We could face increased costs related to defending and resolving legal claims and other litigation related to climate change and the alleged impact of our operations on climate change.
  • While we work to implement our Climate Action Plan, our efforts to achieve emission reduction targets could significantly increase our operational costs and capital expenditures. 

b) Describe the impact of climate-related risks and opportunities on the organization's businesses, strategy and financial planning. 

Impacts on our transportation product: Challenges and risks associated with climate change extend beyond our network. Interconnectedness of North American rail networks and the interoperability of equipment among railroads presents a challenge and an opportunity. Disruptions caused by severe weather events on one carrier’s network affect its interchange partners.

Impacts on our financial planning and partnerships: Railroading is a capital-intensive industry with long-lived assets, so we must be thoughtful about how we explore potential solutions. There is no simple solution to climate change, so we believe the rail industry should work collaboratively throughout its value chain to develop the best solutions for the industry.

Impacts on our technology and R&D initiatives: Within the rail industry, Union Pacific participates in AAR’s Decarbonization Working Group and Locomotive Committee to identify emerging technology to support the decarbonization of the rail industry. We are exploring ways to partner with the other rail carriers and our equipment and energy suppliers to develop locomotive technologies and fuel availability that can move the industry forward in this effort.

Impacts on how we approach public policy: Union Pacific engages in discussions with government agencies and non-governmental organizations to help identify reasonable strategies designed to achieve the long-term goals of the climate action plan. 

c) Describe the potential impact of different scenarios, including at 2'C scenario, on the organization's business, strategy and financial planning. 

In 2022, we conducted an extensive climate scenario analysis to better understand the risks to and opportunities for our operations, infrastructure and supply chains from specific climate scenarios. The analysis is being used to evaluate and develop strategies to allow us to respond to both high- and low-carbon scenarios. Our analysis integrated several factors to represent plausible future pathways based on credible science, developed by experts at the International Energy Agency (IEA) and other reputable organizations. The results of this scenario analysis are intended to inform our understanding of our business’ climate-related risk and opportunities and support planning and investment decisions.

We analyzed perspectives from internal leaders, suppliers, customers, peer literature review and expert assessment to gather insights regarding the climate-related risks and opportunities they identified in the rail industry. We have targeted nine priority climate-related driving forces that have impacted and/or were deemed to have potential further impacts on Union Pacific:

  • Acute climate change: Increasing frequencies of short-duration extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, wildfires, storms and floods. These events may affect our infrastructure and operations, potentially impacting our service levels, increasing costs and requiring investments to improve our infrastructure’s resiliency.
  • Chronic climate change: Long-term changes in weather patterns, such as secular shifts in annual temperature and precipitation levels. These events represent both a risk to our infrastructure and our work patterns, and potential opportunities as consumers and our customers shift to new climate realities.
  • Decarbonization of power generation: While the pace and scope of decarbonization of electrical power generation may vary across our markets, it is highly likely that the power generation sector will continue to replace fossil fuel power generation with renewable fuel sources over the long term, impacting company revenues. Additionally, renewable energy products, feedstocks and infrastructure can be a positive revenue opportunity.
  • Low-carbon transition: The economy-wide carbon emission reductions and transition to low-carbon businesses represent both a risk and opportunity to our business.
  • Stakeholder sustainability interest: ESG-related expectations by our stakeholders (shareholders, customers, communities and employees) have grown significantly, with concomitant demands for climate-related performance commitments, transparent disclosure, and climate-benefiting investment.
  • Environmental policy and regulation: These are generally expected to become more stringent over time. State-by-state adoption of GHG emissions-reduction standards or prescriptive regulations regarding low-carbon technology or fuel may subject our company to a patchwork of applicable regulations. Public low-carbon infrastructure spending can directly or indirectly benefit Union Pacific.
  • Electrification of transportation: Transition from combustion engines to electric motors powered by renewable fuels in the North American transportation sector is continuing at differing speeds across modal types, with uncertainties arising as to cost, availability, procurement and performance.
  • Low-carbon fuels: Reduction of carbon emissions through biofuels enables many power generation technologies to transition to a renewable power source. Uncertainty arises from the availability of biofuel feedstocks, policy and regulation, and social and economic challenges. Transport of renewable diesel and associated feedstocks is a potential revenue growth opportunity.
  • Energy and infrastructure: Fuel and electricity prices are challenging to predict and can fluctuate greatly in the near and long term. There is uncertainty around the amount of low-carbon fuel and electricity required for a net-zero future and the ability of the electrical infrastructure to meet this growing demand.

We worked with outside experts to describe two climate scenarios relevant to Union Pacific based on physical climate and transition trends and data identified in reputable public sources such as the IEA and IPCC. We caution that each of these scenarios is hypothetical and as we continue to refine our approach, technology develops and the world changes, these scenarios may change accordingly.

  • Scenario #1: High-Carbon World: This scenario is characterized by an economy that largely fails to decarbonize – emissions reductions from efficiency gains and low-carbon energy are offset by an increasing population and gross domestic product (GDP). Emissions in the U.S. flatline from 2023 onwards, but global emissions double by 2050, exacerbating physical climate risks such as hurricanes and heat waves. While carbon pricing is muted, lower investment in climate-related innovation and technology means mitigation costs are higher than in low-carbon scenarios. Reference Scenarios: RCP 8.5, IEA STEPS and EIA Reference Case.
  • Scenario #2: Low-Carbon World: This scenario is characterized by an economy that reaches net zero by 2050. Decarbonization is led by the power generation and transportation sectors – each of which decarbonize rapidly, creating widespread opportunities for companies providing low-carbon services. Still, global emissions drive up U.S. mean air temperatures 1.4°C above pre-industrial levels by 2050, increasing physical climate risks such as hurricanes, heat waves and agriculture impacts, though less than in the High-Carbon World. Climate policy is also a significant driver and carbon pricing reaches notable highs. Reference Scenarios: IEA NZE, EIA Low Renewables Cost, EIA High Oil Price, IPCC RCP 2.6, EnerFuture EnerGreen.

We identified and assessed the potential impacts of four priority risk/opportunity drivers on Union Pacific’s business under both the High-Carbon and Low-Carbon scenarios, using a combination of climate and business data.

  1. Carbon Pricing Exposure: Union Pacific may face substantially increased operational costs in the short- to mid-term due to increasing carbon prices. This can be mitigated by reducing company emissions. Carbon pricing may also represent an opportunity for our company as potential customers seeking lower transportation costs shift transportation modes to rail.
  2. Electricity Generation Mix: A sharp decline in the demand for coal transportation is anticipated. This decline may be partially mitigated by demand for transportation of wind and other low-emissions electricity generation infrastructure. Component shipments will likely increase, creating new revenue opportunities.
  3. Agriculture Impacts: Decreasing corn yields in the Midwest can pose a challenge as there have been greater exports from this region lately due to higher-demand markets and dry conditions in the Southwest. Overall increasing wheat yields in the U.S. can present a potential significant opportunity for global export markets.
  4. Acute Climate Risk: In a high-carbon world, greater incidence of operational and maintenance challenges from acute weather – extreme precipitation, flooding, heat waves, and wildfire – could require changes in the level or type of investments for infrastructure and operational resiliency.

Union Pacific is identifying potential strategic responses to mitigate the risks and capitalize on opportunities identified in the climate scenario analysis. Further development of these strategic responses for both the high- and low-carbon scenarios should help us prioritize climate-related impacts against other business risks and opportunities, and designate business and climate trend indicators as signposts that can indicate the emergence of strategic decision points for action by the company. We are taking an iterative approach to climate scenario analysis to be integrated into our business planning processes.

Risk Management

Disclose how the Organization Identifies, Assesses, and Manages Climate-Related Risks

a) Describe the organization's processes for identifying and assessing climate-related risks.

Union Pacific’s enterprise risk management process is dynamic and regularly monitored so the company can timely identify and address any potential risks that arise in the ever-changing economic, political, legal and technology threat environment in which it operates, as well as address business continuity and long-term operational resiliency.

b) Describe the organization's processes for managing climate-related risks. 

The Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the assessment and management of the critical enterprise risks affecting the company. The Board delegates to the Audit Committee primary responsibility for oversight of managing risks related to operations of the company.

To address climate risk, our enterprise risk management program provides for the review, monitoring and mitigation of climate change risks and how these risks may affect the Company’s ability to participate in emerging commodity or financial markets or impact rail’s environmental advantage over other modes of transportation. The Audit Committee and our Board receive updates on Company activities and mitigation strategies related to climate risk. 

c) Describe how processes for identifying, assessing and managing climate-related risks are integrated into the organization's overall risk management.

The Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the assessment and management of the critical enterprise risks affecting the Company. The Board delegates to the Audit Committee primary responsibility for oversight of managing risks related to operations of the company.

Management identifies and prioritizes enterprise risks, including climate-related risks, and regularly presents them to the Board for its review and consideration. The senior executives responsible for implementation of appropriate mitigation strategies for the company’s top enterprise risks, along with the chief accounting, risk and compliance officer, provide reports directly to the Audit Committee and/or the Board during the year. The Audit Committee also receives reports throughout the year from the chief accounting, risk and compliance officer and the senior executives responsible for risk management. In addition, the Audit Committee is responsible for overseeing the company’s internal audit of enterprise risks selected for review and evaluation based upon the company’s annual risk assessment model with the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of mitigating controls and activities of company personnel. The company’s internal auditors present to the Audit Committee findings regarding the mitigating controls and processes for the enterprise risks selected for review. The Audit Committee, in turn, reports those findings to the entire Board. The Audit Committee duties and responsibilities are further outlined in its Charter, which is reviewed annually by the Committee and the Board of Directors

Metrics and Targets

Disclose the Metrics and Targets Used to Assess and Manage Relevant Climate-Related Risks and Opportunities

a) Disclose the metrics used by the organization to assess climate-related risks and opportunities in line with its strategy and risk management process. 

  • Continuous improvement in achieving the Company’s fuel efficiency goals, trip plan compliance and use of biofuels, all of which directly impact greenhouse gas emissions, are tied to executive compensation, as reported in our Proxy.
  • Our Marketing & Sales team identifies climate-related commercial risks and opportunities and includes our Sustainability Team in our customer conversations where appropriate.
  • Our Finance team has established mechanisms to capture climate related capital and is expanding those efforts to track spending more broadly. In addition, our capital project review process challenges investments where a clean energy alternative is readily available.
  • Our employees are leading an effort to increase workforce engagement on environmental issues through our new sustainability business resource group, Planet Tracks.

We will continue to evolve sustainability-related key performance indicators in our executive compensation scorecard. 

b) Disclose Scope 1, Scope 2 and, if appropriate, Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the related risks.

See Union Pacific Sustainability Metrics.

c) Describe the targets used by the organization to manage climate-related risks and opportunities and performance against targets. 

In February 2021, Union Pacific announced its target to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions and GHG emissions on a well-to-wheel basis from locomotive operations 26% by 2030 from a 2018 baseline. Well-to-wheel emissions include well-to-tank emissions, which are Scope 3 emissions generated upstream in the value chain during fuel production and transport, and tank-to-wheel emissions, which are Scope 1 emissions related to the consumption of the fuel. The target boundary includes biogenic emissions and removals from bioenergy feedstocks and has been validated by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi).

Since we set our 2030 short-term emissions reduction target, SBTi has updated its minimum ambition guidance to a below 1.5°C global warming scenario, and the IPCC has reaffirmed the need to quickly reduce emissions globally to align with the 1.5°C target goal. Union Pacific is committed to reaching net-zero GHG emissions. In 2022 we joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C, an alliance of more than 3,000 companies pledged to taking bold action to limit global warming to 1.5°C. As part of that pledge, we committed to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) to revalidate our short-term target in line with the 1.5°C global warming scenario and develop a long-term, science-based target to reach net-zero value chain GHG emissions by 2050. We will publish both targets after they are validated by SBTi 

For a more detailed discussion of our target, see our Climate Action Plan.