As a large energy company, the scale and breadth of SSE’s activities mean that we naturally interact with the environment in many ways, presenting challenges that need to be managed. Our most material environmental impact is the carbon emitted when generating electricity. To address this we are taking steps to significantly reduce our impact on climate change and our business model is focused around supporting the transition to low-carbon electricity systems in the UK and Ireland.
Commitment to net zero
In 2020, we committed to the long-term ambition of achieving net zero carbon emissions across all operations by 2050 at the latest, covering both our direct and indirect emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas emissions). At the same time we joined the ‘Race to Zero’, a global campaign which aims to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. Scroll down to see our interim commitments on carbon reduction.
We also understand that investors are increasingly looking for robust mechanisms through which they can ensure their investments are sustainable and take account of climate-related risks. As a result, SSE has deliberately pursued a strategy of issuing green bonds to finance its investment plans. See the Green Bonds page for more information.
Our science-based carbon targets
In 2020, we set medium-term carbon targets, approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), aligned to the Paris Agreement and a ‘well below two-degree’ pathway, which was the most ambitious pathway available at the time. These targets are aligned to climate science and meet the strict SBTi criteria which requires that they cover scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. A review will be undertaken within five years of the targets being set.
Progress on all four targets can be found in the latest Sustainability Report.
SSEN Transmission had its own series of carbon targets approved by the SBTi in 2020, making it the first electricity networks company globally to receive external accreditation for a science-based target in line with a 1.5°C pathway. See SSEN Transmission’s website for more details.
Our science-based targets:
Reduce the carbon intensity of electricity generation by 60% by 2030, from 2017/18 base year.
Reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 from a 2017/18 base year.
Reduce absolute GHG emissions from use of products sold by 50% by 2034 from a 2017/18 base year.
Engage with 50% of suppliers by spend to set an SBT by 2024.
Assessing the potential impacts of climate change
We are committed to open and meaningful climate-related disclosures to allow stakeholders to fully assess our performance in managing climate-related issues. Information provided in SSE’s Annual Report and Sustainability Report, represent our disclosures in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations, which include a quantification of the potential financial impacts of SSE’s key climate-related risks and opportunities.
We have also assessed the resilience of SSE’s business model to different climate-related scenarios in our Transition to net zero and Post Paris reports.
Protecting and enhancing biodiversity
We operate in some of the UK and Ireland’s most remote areas which are home to a wide variety of valuable ecosystems and habitats. We have robust environmental governance and policies in place, and work constructively with a wide range of stakeholders to produce sustainable environmental outcomes.
Actively managing our environmental footprint and taking careful consideration of biodiversity in our activities helps ensure that we maximise positive and minimise negative impacts. In support of this, we are targeting overall ‘no net biodiversity loss’ on new infrastructure projects gaining consent in 2020 onwards for SSEN Transmission and 2023 for SSE Renewables, and achieving ‘Biodiversity Net Gain’ on projects gaining consent in 2025 onwards for SSEN Transmission and SSE Renewables.
For more information on SSE’s work to protect biodiversity, please see our the latest biodiversity report.
Using resources efficiently
The consequence of human activity on the natural environment through consumption and the resulting habitat loss and species decline is as great a risk to people as climate change. In the transition to net zero, we are seeking to actively to manage our environmental footprint in a way that minimises adverse environmental impacts and, where possible, seeks to add environmental value too.