Publiée le 11/12/2015 - Mise à jour le 11/12/2015
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SNCF – a partner of the COP21

Every day the SNCF Group takes action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in sustainable mobility by providing a low carbon transport mode and also in its capacity as the owner of the French railway network. For example, SNCF Réseau is studying different possibilities related to the recovery (recycling, re-use, reutilization) of material removed from train tracks. As a major player in the railway industry, SNCF therefore has a crucial role in the fight against climate change. Here is an overview of the actions taken before, during and after the global Climate Change Conference which opened on 30 November 2015.

A crucial summit for the planet

The COP21 (21st session of the United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change) opened on 30 November 2015. Delegations from 195 countries are attending this summit in order to negotiate a global agreement by 11 December on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The aim of this conference is to limit global warming to an increase of 2°C by the end of the 21st century. To reach this target, global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 40 to 70% by 2050 (compared to 2010 levels).

Railway transport plays a key role in the fight against climate change. Compared to road transport, it produces 6 to 20 times less CO2/km (depending on the type of train). Train transport is also the most sustainable mechanical transport mode as it generates only 0.4% of greenhouse gas emissions compared to:

  • 90.9 % for road transport
  • 3.3 % for air transport
  • 2.4 % for river transport

In France railway transport emits less than 1% of greenhouse gas emissions, while transporting 10% of freight and passengers.

In this situation the SNCF group is contributing to the debates at the COP21 and is presenting its solutions for climate change both before and during the event.

  • In May 2015 SNCF took part in the Business & Climate Summit which was attended by 2,000 companies committed to reducing their energy consumption.
  • In September/October (during the Paris of the Future exhibit) SNCF Réseau presented the innovations it has adopted in its projects for sustainable development.

In addition, SNCF is an official partner of the COP21 and in this capacity transports the participants between the different venues of this event via the RER B railway line.

Find out more by reading this article : “COP21 - railway transport as part of the solution in the fight against climate change”

Gain a better understanding of the initiatives taken by SNCF Réseau by visiting the “Climate Conference 2015 – News and Events” section

Visit the official site of the COP21

Concrete and daily action for the benefit of the world’s climate

Beyond the Climate Change Conference, the SNCF Group is permanently committed to climate change issues as well as to the mobility needs of all travellers. A wide range of actions dedicated to lower energy consumption support this commitment, such as the use of new generation rolling stock (e.g. hybrid vehicles) and eco-driving training programmes. In taking such initiatives, the SNCF Group is seeking to reach an ambitious goal: reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% between 2014 and 2025. This is an extension of its past efforts between 1990 and 2015 which have already resulted in a 40 % decrease of CO2/traveller/km emissions.

In the SNCF Group, employees of SNCF Réseau are hard at work to reach this aim:

  • Carbon assessments measure greenhouse gas emissions related to its role as the railway infrastructure manager. They help to define actions to reduce the impact on the environment. For example, increasing the portion of railway material which is re-used in a works project, reutilizing products in another part of the network, using recycled material, reducing the energy consumption of “Rapid Works” equipment, encouraging employees to car share, etc.  
  • Overall from project design all the way through to the daily operation of the railway infrastructure, SNCF Réseau favours an eco-design approach. This means taking into consideration the environmental impact of each project, starting with the design phase.
  • Disposed products from renewal and maintenance works are recycled or re-used (this is the case for 30 to 50% of ballast) or even recovered for energy generation (100% of railway sleepers are incinerated). SNCF Réseau therefore applies the principles of a circular economy and has adopted a “5Rs” approach (recovering, repairing, recycling, re-using, rethinking)/

Find out more by reading this article  “Circular economy and recycling of disposed products”

Greenhouse gases: key figures


At a world level, in 2010 greenhouse gas emissions had increased by 80% since 1970 and 30% since 1990. In the same year, an inhabitant of a developed country generated nearly 3 times more CO2 than an inhabitant in a developing country.

At present the energy production sector is the main source of greenhouse gases (35% of emissions vs. 14% each for transport and agriculture). Other major sources include industry (18%) and deforestation (10%).