SSE is committed to being a leading energy provider in a low-carbon world
SSE's chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies writes about embedding sustainability in the European electricity industry, on the day he addresses the Eurelectrics’s Power Summit in Slovenia.
Today I will speak at Eurelectrics’s Power Summit in Slovenia, on opportunities presented by embedding sustainability in the European electricity industry. SSE is one of the largest energy companies in Britain so the decisions we make have the potential to profoundly impact the environment, our employees and the communities in which we operate.
For me, sustainability means many things, from an SSE point of view, but four come to mind ahead of the summit, and they all apply to energy companies.
Firstly, sustainability means addressing climate change
This November will mark the 10-year anniversary of the UK’s Climate Change Act. This was hugely important in giving a clear direction to business on the UK’s decarbonisation ambitions.
Our vision is to be a leading energy provider in a low-carbon world. SSE operates over 11GW of electricity generating capacity, made up of a diverse portfolio of renewables and thermal generation. Therefore, the most material environmental impact SSE has, is on the carbon dioxide emitted when generating electricity.
We set ourselves the target to cut the carbon intensity of the electricity SSE generates by 50% between 2006 and 2020. I am proud that we met this target in March 2017. But we want to go further, so last month announced our ambition to reduce the carbon intensity of our electricity production by a further 50% by 2030, based on 2018 levels. This will represent a 75% cut on our original 2006 baseline.
I am confident, that working with policy makers we will be able to deliver our new, ambitious goal.
Secondly, sustainability means paying the right tax, in the right way, at the right time
Business relies on society to operate successfully. They depend on public services to educate a workforce for the future, to keep employees healthy and safe, and to ensure there’s access to well-maintained public infrastructure.
We recognise the deeply interconnected relationship between business and society. As a provider of an essential service there is an added responsibility for SSE to conduct itself in a way that enhances value to the society which it is part of. One way in which we do this is paying the right tax, in the right way, at the right time. We see this as business’ duty to the society in which it operates.
SSE is the only Fair Tax Mark accredited company in the FTSE 100. My hope is that more companies like SSE becoming Fair Tax Mark accredited to promote the importance of tax transparency, as we will all be winners if the playing field is fair and responsible tax becomes core to a strategy for sustainable growth.
Thirdly, sustainability means being a responsible employer
In February, The Good Economy report ranked SSE first in the FTSE350 for inclusive job growth in the UK. At the core of our sustainability ethos is the understanding that a responsible, inclusive and respectful approach to employment is essential.
However, we are not resting on our laurels. Being a responsible employer means facing challenges head-on. In 2016, SSE became the first FTSE 100 company to publish its gender pay gap and we are committed to closing this gap and driving wider change to become more inclusive overall.
SSE worked with inclusion specialists Equal Approach to calculate the financial return from investing in gender diversity initiatives, finding there was a £4.52 return for every £1 spent. More importantly though, the analysis also showed that a wider Inclusion Strategy could deliver a £15 return for every £1 invested by 2020. Improving on diversity is not only a moral, but a business imperative.
Finally, and most importantly, sustainability means action
SSE is committed to delivering its vision of being leading energy provider in a low-carbon world. We will do this by acting on our goals, creating wider value for the people that work for us, the communities we work in, and the wider society we serve.