Cast your mind back, just a few months before the coronavirus epidemic became part of everyday life and you will remember the news feeds were buzzing with a ‘call to action’ on climate change and the unprecedented decline in Biodiversity. Whilst not as prominent on the front pages right now, the messages from scientists across the globe is clear - we need to maintain the momentum and drive forward implementing our targets to reduce emissions and halt the unprecedented decline in biodiversity.
As a business we know have a key role we will play in the fight against climate change, making clear commitments to ensure we meet the needs of our customers and shareholders in the most responsible way possible. From this year we have committed to delivering No Net Biodiversity Loss on projects, and Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) on Projects from 2025. To deliver this we have been working across the industry and the public sector in Scotland to develop a new, innovative approach that embeds biodiversity considerations into every stage of the project lifecycle.
Last week, the Chief Executive of our parent company the SSE Group, Alistair Phillips-Davies, wrote to Boris Johnson setting out a ‘Greenprint’ for building a cleaner and more resilient economy and this has really helped ‘join the dots’ on how supporting the UK to recover from the economic and social effects of lockdown can help get the country on track to meet our climate action commitments.
This is a timely intervention as on Friday (5th June) we celebrate World Environment Day where, individuals, businesses and governments across the globe also come together to raise awareness and take action on urgent environmental issues. The focus this year on Biodiversity is very close to my heart as over the past 50 years there has been a 60% decline in the abundance of key priority species within the UK.
Why does this matter? Well the truth is that thriving biodiversity (species, habitats and ecosystems) provides key functions that are essential for our existence, including:
A reduction in these ecosystem services (particularly at the current rate) will very quickly begin to impact our health, wellbeing and prosperity. It is therefore critical that we play our part, not only in halting the decline, but where possible ‘enhancing’ the areas in which we work. It is for this reason I’m absolutely delighted the SSE Group has launched the SSE Environment Strategy putting a spotlight on the ‘Natural Environment’ and each business area is setting targets on Biodiversity. With a solid foundation already laid in SSEN Transmission, I look forward with positivity to the role we will play in protecting and enhancing biodiversity across our network area in the North of Scotland.
As part of our RIIO-T2 business plan for the next price control period , our Sustainability Action Plan details our key activities to implement our sustainability strategy commitments to 2026. Demonstrating leadership in reducing our own environmental impact we have set an ambitious goal to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions by one third, consistent with that required to deliver a pathway to net zero.
World Environment Day give us the opportunity to focus collectively on how we meet the challenges of the climate change crisis. Accelerating our climate action represents an opportunity to achieve a green economic recovery from coronavirus, supporting economic growth and jobs through the net zero transition
By Richard Baldwin, Head of Environment