Bombardier Gets Ahead of the Pack on Climate Change

Some companies are taking action to address climate change in spite of international gridlock. Bombardier is one of those companies, having received accolades in Canada for it’s commitment to sustainable business practices to taking innovative engineering approaches to getting employees involved.

Bombardier is the world’s third largest aerospace company. Headquartered in Canada, the company also has operations across the globe. Spreading out around the globe means it faces unique regulatory hurdles when it comes to climate change.

For example, in Canada, the Senate killed the country’s attempt to regulate greenhouse gases last year. However, in the European Union, a carbon market has been up and running since 2005. Bombardier has 10 facilities in Europe that participate in the market.

However, the company has been thinking about reducing greenhouse gas emissions even before the EU’s carbon market started. Starting in 2003, the company has set annual greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. Their three mechanisms to attain those targets are offsets, increased energy efficiency and increased dependence on renewable energy to power their facilities.

Bombardier also sees employee innovation as a path forward to reducing emissions. According to Bombardier public affairs advisor Michel Gagnon, they recently created a Green Fund “dedicated to capital investments in energy-saving initiatives. Each site will be able to enter proposed projects in a competition with the best ideas receiving funds from this central budget.” The fund is new for 2011. Keep an eye on Bombardier’s CSR site for updates on winning projects.

Emissions from production are only a small part of the story, though. The majority of emissions Bombardier is accountable for come after their airplanes and trains roll off the production line.

Carbon dioxide emissions from aviation account for three percent of total global emissions. However, those emissions are likely to triple by 2050 and possibly increase sevenfold by 2100.

To combat that increase, Bombardier led the international body governing aviation to adopt a global framework for managing aviation emissions in October 2010. This includes aspiring to increase fuel efficiency two percent each year through 2050, establishing a carbon market specifically for the aviation sector, setting a global carbon dioxide standard for aircraft by 2013, similar to auto standards.

Rail travel is a less greenhouse gas-intensive form of travel. Bombardier is focused on pushing their new line trains, which use even less energy than the average passenger trains currently on the market.

These efforts are part of why Canada's Globe and Mail ranked Bombardier Canada’s best company for environmental practices in 2010. They also show that while some companies might see addressing climate change as a challenge, Bombardier sees it as an opportunity.

For more on Bombardier, check out Richard Cooke's piece on their new aerospace and rail technologies over in the Transportation section.

Photo credits: Bombardier