The CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway, one of the largest railways on the continent, was recently quoted as saying that people need to begin realizing and accepting that fossil fuels are “probably dead” — owing to a changing climate and the environmental hurdles that are likely to be introduced in coming years to large-scale use of fossil fuels.
The Canadian Pacific Railway CEO, Hunter Harrison, made the comments at a recent JP Morgan transportation conference in New York. One where he also noted: “I’m not maybe as green as I should be, but I happen to think the climate is changing; they’re not going to fool me anymore.”
Harrison speculated that, while the transition to “alternative fuels” would be a long one, investments into fossil fuels would likely begin drying up due to environmental barriers.
The Calgary Herald provides more:
The country’s second-largest railway has seen shipments of crude drop due to declining demand brought on by the dramatic fall in oil prices. Thermal coal shipments have also waned. Harrison said the rail industry will have to adjust to a shift to alternative energy sources, just as it did in the 1990s when the US Clean Air Act wiped away 29% of the business at Illinois Central Railway that he ran at the time.
Company spokesman Jeremy Barry said later that Harrison was referring to the “overwhelming trend” toward sustainable energy and the need for all segments of the economy to acknowledge the ever-changing energy landscape.
“I think that it’s a challenge going forward, but rails have historically dealt with those changes really well through the years and continued to survive and make it,” Harrison continued.
As conventional railway transport is far and away one of the most energy efficient means of transport and shipping, that fact isn’t surprising. Unless the canal network of the northeast makes a comeback via a New Deal–style public works project (this is never going to happen, I know), then I’m doubtful that continental railway networks will lose their (energy efficiency) dominance anytime soon. Once oil prices climb back to their previous highs (which shouldn’t take more than a few years), railway transport will once again seem to be a particularly economical choice for many.
(Tip of the hat to Matthew Klippenstein for this story.)
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