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Our road to COP26

16 May 2021

With a global coronavirus vaccination response now under way, there are reasons to be positive about our ability to overcome the greatest health crisis in living memory. The economic and social costs will, however, continue to be felt for some time.

However, we know that the other global crisis – climate change – has not gone away. As well as fighting to vaccinate the world’s population against Covid-19, we must unite countries large and small in the fight to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Achieving this herculean task would save many lives, too.

We've just six months to go until world leaders gather at COP26 in Glasgow in November and they’ll be under pressure to commit their countries to increased climate ambitions at a time when there is an urgent need for economic recovery at home.

The good news is these aims are not mutually exclusive and the UK, as host, has the opportunity to show the world how to deliver a green recovery; one that makes economic as well as environmental sense.

"The truth is the UK has made great strides towards decarbonisation and has benefited from it."

We’ve weaned our electricity grid off polluting coal at the fastest pace of any country in the G20 (coal now accounts for just 1.7 per cent of all energy generated).

Coal use has dropped by 93 per cent since the landmark Paris Agreement was signed at COP21 in 2015 and wind power has risen to the fore. Almost a quarter of UK electricity generation last year was from wind – more than four times the global average and the most of any G20 nation.

The transition in the energy sector is well under way, and as one of the largest electricity producers in the UK we’ve played a huge part in this. There’s no one on the planet building more offshore wind facilities than SSE right now. We’re one of the pre-eminent renewable developers in Europe and we’ve got ambitious plans to treble our renewable output by 2030; to build the biggest offshore wind farm in the world at Dogger Bank; to break our own record for the largest offshore wind farm in Scotland; to develop what will be the most productive wind farm in Europe on Shetland; and to invest billions in the electricity transmission system – the electric highways – to bring that power to the grid and to your homes and businesses.

We’re putting the work in to help clean up heat and transport, too – the UK’s next big decarbonisation challenge. And we’re doing this while contributing hugely to the UK.

The UK has experience to share – it’s a small nation that’s made a big dent in a global problem. We’re proud to be COP26 partners and look forward to welcoming the world to Scotland in just six months time in November to demonstrate what can be achieved with clear targets and real focus.

This article was originally published in The Times and The Sunday Times.