Recognising Earth Day 2021: Powering change by building back better22 Apr 2021
Rob McDonald, Managing Director of SSEN Transmission, writes on how the business is powering change by building back better.
Today is Earth Day; first held on April 22nd 1970 as a national event to raise awareness of climate and environmental issues in the United States, it has grown substantially over the past 51 years to be a coordinated, multi-national campaign that is supported by over 1 billion people in more than 193 countries world-wide.
With COP26 just around the corner, of which we are a proud sponsor through SSE Plc’s group endorsement, this Earth Day presents a unique opportunity to showcase the UK’s ambitious, and legally binding climate goals; building back better for a green recovery whilst also supporting positive and just environmental outcomes locally, regionally and nationally.
As we build our network for Net Zero, connecting the clean, green electricity needed to support the UK’s emissions reduction and renewable energy targets, we’re incredibly proud to be the world’s first networks operator to receive external accreditation from the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) for a science-based target in line with a 1.5°C global warming pathway. And we’re even prouder to pledge our commitment to the United Nation’s Race to Zero initiative.
By joining a global movement of leading companies, we’re aligning our business with the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement; which poignantly, was signed by world leaders on Earth Day in 2016. Our commitments include actions to reduce our own day-to-day emissions as a business and work with supply chain partners to invest in innovative “greener grid” technology, reducing our use of SF6 gas at our substations.
This year’s Earth Day theme “Restore Our Earth” resonates in particular with our business, focusing on climate restoration, bio-diversity growth and climate education with participants urged to focus not only on how we can reduce our impact on the planet but also on how we might actively repair the world’s ecosystems. This is something that SSEN Transmission firmly supports and is demonstrated by our own approach to the delivery of Biodiversity Net Gain on our sites by 2025, not just restoring our natural habitats but actively improving them for the benefit of local communities, wildlife, flora and fauna. We are now implementing Biodiversity No Net Loss as a minimum requirement on our newly consented projects as we work towards our 2025 Biodiversity Net Gain target.
Our approach to Biodiversity Net Gain has gained external recognition at the Institute for Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) awards and was highly commended at the industry Network Awards. For the third year running we are also delighted to be awarded a ‘Leadership’ rating in Ofgem’s Environmental Discretionary Reward (EDR); achieving our highest scoring to date and making us the first Transmission operator to achieve EDR leadership status for three consecutive years. All are highly regarded and respected environmental accolades that we are incredibly proud to shout about.
So, as we invest (at least) a further £3.5bn in the north of Scotland transmission network between now and 2026, creating hundreds of jobs and thousands of supply chain opportunities along the way. And as we support in the delivery of Scottish and UK climate and renewable energy goals; building a grid that unlocks greater electrification and connectivity in society, we’re also supporting a just, fair and environmentally conscious transition to 2050. And on Earth Day 2021, there’s no better day to celebrate this fantastic achievement as we help to power change and “build back better”.