We are the driver of transport decarbonisation

We have reduced our carbon footprint per unit transported by 88% since 1990, the base year for the Kyoto Protocol. In the face of the current climate emergency, everyone is responsible for reducing its effects: companies, governments, institutions, customers. At Renfe, we have been working for many years to reduce our emissions to a minimum in our day-to-day operations, while seeking to attract increasing numbers of customers to trains, enabling them to reduce their own carbon footprint too.

The train is the most efficient mode of transporting passengers and goods in terms of energy consumption and CO2 emissions. If we take into account that, in Spain and the rest of Europe, the transport sector is the main cause of emissions, choosing the train is a key decision in the fight against climate change.

At Renfe, we operate eco-friendly, electric trains with zero emissions. The vast majority of our trains run 100% on electricity from renewable sources (with certificate of origin) and are capable of transporting large numbers of passengers or amounts of goods with low energy consumption. Specifically, rail transport emits between 5 and 7 times less CO2 than road transport and 7 to 10 times less than air transport.

The impact we avoid

We are the best mobility alternative in the fight against climate change. In Spain and in all of Europe, the transport sector is responsible for about 26% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a concept that includes CO2 and other gases.

Trains contribute just 0.3% of this figure. To understand the dimension of the role of the train, we have calculated the activity of the alternative means that would be necessary to replace the transport of people and goods performed by us. Each year, it would be:

  • Cars: 382 million trips
  • Lorries: 4.4 million trips
  • Planes: 116,800 flights

Which means that, every year, we avoid: 5.7 million tonnes of CO2 and we save 1.1 million tonnes of oil. Is that a lot or a little? The same as the domestic consumption of 15 million inhabitants (e.g. the sum of the Autonomous Communities of Catalonia, Aragón and Valencia).

The importance of modal transfer to rail can also be quantified in economic terms, through the concept of external costs. Environmental benefits are added to other social and economic advantages (less accidentality, minimal air pollution caused in urban areas and a decisive contribution to the reduction of urban congestion).

The advantages in terms of the environmental sustainability of rail travel in fighting climate change may be even greater, which is why Renfe has teamed up with Adif and Adif Alta Velocidad to promote the Master Plan to combat Climate Change. This plan is structured in 4 strategic lines: energy management, energy efficiency, decarbonisation and culture. We can summarise this in one huge commitment: reduce 9.9 million tonnes of Co2 by 2030 and save more than 250 million euros in external costs.