23 Aug 2021
· Strategy aims to leverage power of public transport to create better places to live and work
· Switching from cars to walking, cycling and public transport is central to climate action
· Government must address “contradictory policies and mixed messaging being sent to citizens”
· Stagecoach to decarbonise by c70% by 2035 on journey to become carbon neutral by 2050
· Company initiatives to reduce waste, conserve water and minimise energy use
· Leaders to be 40% women, and 25% of workforce from ethnically diverse backgrounds, by 2026
· Give back programme will see 0.5% of profit before tax go to charity and community causes
Stagecoach East Midlands today (23 August 2021) launched a new long-term sustainability strategy with a call for “radical behaviour change and incentives to reward the right choices” to make national government net zero ambitions a reality.
The bus operator, publishing its roadmap to becoming a carbon neutral business by 2050, also warned that national and regional government needed to address the “contradictory policies and mixed messaging being sent to citizens” over climate change action.
Stagecoach’s strategy – Driving Net Zero: Better Places to Live and Work – aims to help create a greener, smarter, safer, healthier and fairer country. It sets out plans to achieve this by leveraging the power of public transport to address climate change, support post-Covid economic recovery and boost prosperity for employees and communities across the UK.
The plan will see investment in new zero-emissions fleets and other green technologies over the next 15 years to reduce the impact of the company’s operations on the planet, as well as initiatives to cut waste, boost recycling and conserve water.
Stagecoach East Midlands has already surpassed some key milestones in their mission to improve air quality and reduce harmful carbon emissions locally.
In 2019, the bus operator invested £5.7m in a state-of-the-art fleet of 31 environmentally friendly vehicles for Hull. The high-spec vehicles are fitted with Euro VI engines with low emissions and the latest start/stop technology, producing fewer emissions overall than a Euro 6 diesel car, and ten times fewer on a per passenger basis.
Stagecoach East Midlands have also partnered with Hull City Council to expand the city’s bus lanes, enabling more people to swap the car for bus as part of their daily commute to improve traffic congestion and reduce their carbon footprint.
<p">Stagecoach is aiming to decarbonise its business by around 70% by 2035 as well as targeting having a zero emissions UK bus fleet by that date. It follows a 14% reduction in Stagecoach carbon emissions between 2014 and 2019, supported by investments in LED lighting, intelligent building heating </p">
control systems and renewables. The company’s ambition is to go further and faster, as the UK looks ahead to hosting the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in November 2021.
In addition, Stagecoach has confirmed plans to sign up to the global Race to Zero campaign and has also started working towards setting science-based targets for ratification by the Science Based Targets initiative, consistent with the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050.
The phased plan to fully decarbonise the company’s operations will see a switch away from clean diesel power - which already has 95% less pollutants than standard diesel vehicles - to zero-carbon technologies, including electric and hydrogen. Stagecoach has already invested £1billion in 7,000 new greener vehicles in the last decade, including one of the biggest orders of e-buses in Europe.
Other new key environmental targets include:
· Purchasing only 100% renewable energy for Stagecoach buildings and fleet
· Aligning energy management systems with the international standard ISO50001 by 2027
· 95% of waste diverted from landfill by 2026 and 98% by 2031
· Reducing resource use by further digitalising systems
· Progressing a climate adaptation programme to risk assess and protect facilities
Matt Cranwell, Managing Director of Stagecoach East Midlands, said: “We are pleased to see our long-term sustainability strategy roadmap published today, which outlines our plans to achieve a greener, cleaner and better country for future generations and call on local and national government to take radical action on climate change.
“At Stagecoach East Midlands, we are dedicated to implementing sustainable green travel and have been working closely with local authorities to improve air quality and reduce harmful carbon emissions. But we must do more on a national scale to make net zero a reality.
“As the economy begins to recover from the impact of the Covid pandemic, we remain committed to supporting the fight against climate change and are proud of the work we have achieved so far.”
Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Chief Executive, said: “Stagecoach is a force for good and our strategy starts with what we can do in our own business to help transform society for the better. But we also need to make changes individually and work together to achieve our goals.
“The country will not deliver on its ambitions by grand strategies or technology change alone. We need radical behaviour change and incentives to reward the right choices to make net zero a reality. We need to be more honest about the scale of the challenge and the changes we will need to make to how we live now.
“Governments need to get real and stop cherry-picking the easy wins. We urgently need practical changes by national and regional government to address contradictory policies and mixed messaging currently being sent to citizens. We need an end to the ludicrous situation where some clean air zone plans effectively tax bus passengers making a sustainable choice but do nothing to address diesel cars contributing to the deaths of tens of thousands of people in our communities every year.
“Our current tax system and approach to road management puts cars first and is directly resulting in higher fares for people doing the right thing and choosing greener bus travel.
“The biggest opportunity to address climate change and protect our communities from extreme weather, poor air quality and the road traffic gridlock strangling our economy is not from electrifying Britain’s transport system. It is from incentivising the country to switch from cars to greener and healthier public transport and active travel.”
Last year, as part of a six-point plan to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, Stagecoach called for a "grown-up conversation" to re-examine fiscal policy as the government considers how to pay for the coronavirus pandemic. This would include a complete transformation in how transport journeys are taxed. It would see a ‘polluter pays’ principle, with sustainable behaviours and use of public transport rewarded to make these modes more affordable and accessible to all.
The new Stagecoach sustainability strategy also includes a package of investment in its employees and measures to build on the company’s significant annual contribution to the country’s economy and communities, which was independently assessed before the Covid-19 pandemic as totalling £1.6billion a year. This includes:
· Helping transform diversity in the transport sector by ensuring women make up at least 40% of the company’s leaders and 25% of the wider workforce are from ethnic minorities by 2026
· Securing independent diversity and inclusion accreditations
· Boosting safety performance with a further 15% reduction in passenger and staff accidents by 2025-26 versus 2018-19
· Supporting policy development at local and national level and improving customer and stakeholder advocacy for our business
· Giving back to communities by allocating 0.5% of profit before tax to charity and other good causes.
· Focused initiatives to promote health and wellbeing; support young people, skills and employment; address loneliness and social isolation; and increase accessibility and opportunity
Stagecoach is also putting in place enhanced governance arrangements to drive and monitor change. These include a new Sustainability Steering Group; immediate compliance with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures; and a target of achieving Carbon Disclosure Project “A” rating, with annual goals to improve performance.
Mr Griffiths said: “This is far more than a climate change strategy. It is a plan to deliver better places to live and work in the towns and cities we are proud to serve across the country. We need the support of government, our customers, our employees, our supply chain partners and a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic to fuel the investment needed to make real change a reality.”
A copy of Stagecoach’s sustainability strategy is available here: https://www.stagecoachgroup.com/~/media/Files/S/Stagecoach-Group/Attachments/pdf/stagecoach-group-sustainability-strategy-2021.pdf
ENDS For further information, please email [email protected]
Notes to editors
· Independent research by the Centre for Business and Economic Research shows that, pre-pandemic, without Stagecoach bus services, there would be an annual increase of 190,000 tonnes of CO2 through passengers using alternative transport, mainly cars. (Stagecoach/Cebr, 2020)
· Diesel cars are the single biggest contributor to NOx levels, responsible for 41% of all NOx emissions from road transport (Greener Journeys, 2017).
· However, Clean Air Zone (CAZ) plans often wrongly targeting buses and a continued reluctance to face up to measures needed to tackle single use car trips. Under Greater Manchester’s CAZ planned for May 2022, vans, buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, minibuses and heavy goods vehicles that do not meet emission standards would pay a daily charge to travel in the zone. Private cars, motorbikes and mopeds are not included.
· Successive UK governments have frozen the rate of fuel duty each year since 2010, meaning motorists have enjoyed a significant tax cut in real terms. Research has suggested that the UK’s CO2 emissions are as much as 5% higher than they otherwise would have been (Carbon Brief, 2020). The freeze cost the UK Exchequer some £11.2bn in the 2019-20 financial year alone (Institute for Fiscal Studies, 2019). It is also estimated that the fuel duty freeze has led to 5% more traffic, 250 million fewer bus journeys and 75 million fewer rail journeys (Campaign for Better Transport, 2021).
· Around 36,000 premature deaths in the UK annually are attributed to poor outdoor air quality, which is linked to major health issues, such as cancer, asthma and strokes. (Public Health England, 2019). There are also concerns that people living in polluted areas and suffering from air-quality related health problems have been more vulnerable to the impacts of Covid-19 (World Economics Forum, 2020).
· Estimates suggest that the UK economy would save £1.6 billion a year by tackling air pollution, with the benefit coming from a reduced number of premature deaths, fewer days off due to sickness and higher work productivity (CBI Economics, 2020)