The importance of sustainable Freight transportation in 2021


A huge amount of trade between the UK and the EU is carried through the channel tunnel - 25% of it, in fact. Now, that’s a huge responsibility in and of itself, but our responsibilities span outside of economic and cultural impacts; Eurotunnel and GetLink group recognises the need to be green in all that we do.

As such a large facilitator of trade across the continent, considering our environmental impact is of the utmost importance.

Freight supply routes are the lifeblood of our economies, distributing essential produce and products across the Channel. As such, freight will only continue to grow - and we have to take our responsibility to sustainability seriously as it does so.


Where are we now?

It’s important to recognise the position we are in as a species currently. As of May last year, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was higher than it has ever been throughout human history.

Experts say that the next few years are absolutely critical for reversing or halting our impact on the planet - and the onus is on all of us. We believe that it’s the role of industry to spearhead change, and are highlighting the importance of sustainable freight transportation moving forwards.

While traditional road freight that runs on fossil fuels contributes significantly to greenhouse emissions, the shift to freight by rail (specifically, electric rail) allows for significant improvements in emissions. Consequently, the rail industry only makes up 1% of national emissions.

The low number, though, doesn’t mean there isn’t more to be done and to maintain.

As Yann Leriche, CEO of GetLink, says: “This essential part of our identity does not dilute our responsibility: on the contrary, it commits us to be ever more responsible.”

The good thing is that rail infrastructure is inherently low-carbon; we don’t release large amounts of greenhouse gases due to our locomotives being electric-powered. A truck crossing the Channel on a Eurotunnel shuttle emits on average 12 times less CO2 per journey than when travelling on a ferry via Calais-Dover.

We’re also proud of our commitment thus far to leave the marine life surrounding our tunnels undisturbed (the marine ecosystem being a rather fragile one), and to have the creation of a biodiverse space on our roster.

The 4.9 million cubic tonnes that were excavated to create the Channel Tunnel (between 1988 and 1994) created Samphire Hoe, a now beloved green space and beach filled with over 200 species of plants, 30 species of butterflies, and 220 species of birds!


The future

Because of the part we play in trade and transportation, a huge focus for us has always been sustainability, and this focus has only been strengthened through our 2025 Environmental Roadmap.

Our goals as part of the GetLink group fall under three important pillars:

  • Transition of energy and climate change impact
  • Preserving natural environments
  • Management of waste and the circular economy


Two of GetLink’s biggest focuses will be on reducing the Group’s emissions by 30% by 2025, and contributing to the reduction of indirect emissions linked to the Group’s activities.

Although close, our sights are set on 2025 to reach our clear targets. Transparency, consistency, and determination all help to make this possible, especially in the knowledge that we are running out of time to make these positive changes - both as an industry, and as a general population.

This milestone will set us up well for continual improvements up to 2030, outlined as part of the European Green Deal - so we can all look to a more sustainable future, together.

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