Stagecoach publishes roadmap to 2050 carbon neutral goals

image of a Stagecoach electric bus

Stagecoach has published its sustainability strategy.

The strategy outlines plans to achieve carbon neutral status by 2050. It calls for “radical behaviour change and incentives to reward the right choices” from government.

Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths has also highlighted “ludicrous” policies and “mixed messaging” on climate change. That includes penalising buses in Clean Air Zones, and what he says is ongoing favouritism to cars in road management.

Investment in zero-emission (ZE) technology will see Stagecoach aim for a ZE UK bus fleet by 2035. Battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell-electric will be part of the phased shift away from diesel power. The operator has already invested £1bn in cleaner vehicles.

It also plans to sign up to the Race to Zero campaign, and has started work on setting science-based targets for ratification by the Science Based Targets initiative consistent with the 2015 Paris Climate Accords.

Stagecoach Chief Executive: ‘stop cherry-picking the easy wins’

Mr Griffiths argues that “strategies and technology change” are not going to deliver on climate change targets alone.

“We need radical behaviour change and incentives to reward the right choices to make net zero a reality,” he says. “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.”

Employee investment sees key targets published

Also announced in the strategy is a package of investment in Stagecoach’s employees.

That includes a goal for 40% of its leaders to be women and 25% from ethnic minorities by 2026. These goals will be backed by independent diversity and inclusion accreditations.

It will also look to a 15% reduction in passenger and staff accidents in the next five years.

Stagecoach has also promised to allocate 0.5% of its before tax profits towards charities. It will also launch a number of health and wellbeing initiatives.

Adds Mr Griffiths: “This is far more than a climate change strategy. 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.”