The green recovery – putting our money where our mouth is
Today’s full-year results presentation is unlike any we’ve given before. Delivered a month later than originally planned, it will be fully virtual with analysts firing in their questions from home. I won’t be wearing a tie, since there’ll be nobody to see it. The event underlines in its own small way how much life has changed in recent months.
Results presentations usually look backwards – and we’re doing a bit of that, reflecting on what now feels like a dim and distant 2019/20 as a year of solid recovery and strategic progress for our business.
But our focus is, rightly, on what we’ve done since that financial year ended to support the coronavirus effort and, critically, what we plan to do in the months and years ahead.
Whilst the worst of this phase appears to be behind us, the economic and social impacts will be felt for much longer. Bouncing back will not be easy, and with public finances stretched, attracting private investment into the right areas will be key.
As we set out in our ‘greenprint’ last month, we believe strongly that low-carbon investment can now deliver a win-win – fighting both recession and climate change by building a cleaner, more resilient economy.
We’re not alone in making that argument. The difference between us and many others is we’re putting our money where our mouth is and actually doing something about it.
Today we’ve outlined plans for over £7bn of low-carbon investments in the UK and Ireland over the next five years. That’s almost £4m every single day from now until 2025. When you factor in the contributions of our partners, the projects we’re delivering will channel around [£20bn] into the UK and Ireland.
Projects like the 103-turbine Viking Onshore Wind Farm on Shetland, which we’ve confirmed today we plan to build. Together with the Seagreen 1 project we’re building with Total, we’ll deliver almost £4bn of investment in renewables and enough clean electricity to power more than a million homes.
At the same time, our Transmission business has an ambitious plan for a minimum £2.4bn of investment in near shovel-ready projects, which will help meet net zero.
These are projects that will drive progress towards the UK’s net zero emissions by 2050 target, supporting thousands of skilled jobs, building the UK supply chain and pumping money into regions that need levelling up.
Progress to net zero must be backed by evidence, science and facts. That’s why we’ve today set a new series of ambitious carbon targets, aligned to the 2016 Paris Agreement, and validated by the Science Based Target initiative, which will see us strive to cut emissions further and faster.
We want to do more. We’re a UK-listed business that’s been investing in renewable energy since we brought hydro power to Scotland over 80 years ago. We’re accredited with the Fair Tax Mark and the Living Wage because we recognise we have a responsibility to society – and that includes repaying pensioners and savers with dividends. We’ve not furloughed any employees nor accessed government financing. Building a clean, resilient economy is what we’re all about.
As the Prime Minister and the Chancellor turn their attention to the green recovery and the economic stimulus it may require in the coming weeks, our message is that we’re here to help and we stand ready to invest billions of private capital in the coming years in projects, providing jobs and regenerating communities without relying on public funding.
We’re putting our money where our mouth is. And with long-term vision from Government, we can make the green recovery a reality.