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BACA vlog series | Lineas


At times when the impact of climate change has never manifested itself more evidently and devastatingly, effective implementation of emission reduction measures deserves to be at the centre stage of the event. That is why in this vlog series, our vlogger Jaffar will share with you a grasp of inspiring ‘implementation stories’ from different BACA members.

2022 11 14 10 24 06 RE Budget de formation Message HTML

Implementation is at the core of what we do with the Belgian Alliance for Climate Action. By setting science-based emission reduction targets (SBTs), the companies, NGO’s and academic institutions within our network make sure that the measures they implement now, make sense on the long term. And they have plenty to show for.

In this episode, Jaffar visits Bernard Gustin, CEO of Lineas, Europe’s largest private rail freight operator.

Jaffar: Knowing that transport is responsible for a huge chuck of global carbon emissions, how does Lineas contribute to emission reduction, as a rail freight operator?

Bernard: "Lineas considers itself more than a freight operator. We are playing a leading role in the decarbonization of the supply chain of the heavy industry. A closer look reveals that 75% of transport related emissions, come from road transport. If we move from road to rail, we reduce emissions by a factor of nine. So that's our key objective: to succeed the modal shift from road to rail."

Jaffar: What can be done to convince the world of the necessity of this model shift? What should be done to accelerate it?

Bernard: "Rail transport is dependent on infrastructure. So, first of all, governments should continue to invest in and upgrade rail infrastructure. Also, we need to make sure that there is a level playing field between the train and truck industries. Today, trucks are heavily sponsored. They don’t pay for using the road. In many countries, fuel for road transport is heavily subsidized. While we (the train industry) must pay for rail passes, we have to pay for our energy full blast. The day on which you remove all this support from the road, the rail will become competitive with the road. I can imagine many companies will start to make the switch, which is far more efficient from a CO2 and from an energy point of view. Because when you use rail instead of roads, you use six times less energy. We are now in the middle of an energy crisis, so it's really important to succeed in this modal shift.

Jaffar: How did you, as a CEO of such a big company, take your own personal steps towards decarbonization?

Bernard: "I started my career in the airline industry. So, you can imagine. But in the meantime, I've been chairman of an energy company, which really sensitized me about the climate issues we have. So even if Lineas is a company contributes to emission reductions, you need to 'live it' by yourself. At Lineas, we aim to be carbon neutral by 2030. That is a challenge, because we still have a lot of locomotives running on diesel. Although they are more efficient than trucks, we need to move fully to becoming carbon neutral as a company. This also means that we need to pay attention to our individual emissions of CO2. I am lucky to live not too far away from the office and I try to come to the office by bike. Even if I have a meeting somewhere else, I take my foldable bike. It's a little example, but the way you live can also influence the energy transition.".

Jaffar: How are you integrating Science Based Targets into your company's strategy?

Bernard: “We believe that to implement our strategy, the fact that rail industry produces nine times less CO2 and has six times less energy needs to be scientifically demonstrated and tracked. That is why we want to integrate Science Based Targets into our KPIs and be sure that we are recognized by an external auditor on those topics."

Jaffar: Which motivating message can you give to other companies about becoming carbon neutral?

Bernard: “Business is important. Economy is important. But at the end of the day, we've all seen what is happening with the climate. We've seen the floods in Belgium two years ago. We've seen the heat in some countries. So, it's happening and is our responsibility, whether you are a businessman or politician, to take action now, because we don't have a plan B.

2022 10 27 09 23 16 Lineas Alt Edit mp4 VLC Media Player

About the vlogger

Jaffar Abbas is a master student of Sustainability, Society and the Environment (SSE), studying at the Christian-Albrechts-Universitat of Kiel, Germany. He's a Pakistani climate change activist, with a strong research interest in environmental communications. He hopes to do his part in improving the state of the world by working on climate justice.

An inspiring story to share?

Do you have a compelling story to share about your organisation's climate trajectory? It can be an example of success or failure, as long as it has potential to inspire others to take action! Drop us a short e-mail and we'll get in touch.