SSE has unveiled its intention to draw up plans for a just transition, with an intention of publishing them by November 2021.
In response to a question from the Royal London Asset Managers and Friends Provident Foundation as part of SSE’s AGM, the energy company stated in a written answer that ensuring net zero is delivered in a just way will be “increasingly important” as it looks forward into the 2020s.
The importance of a just transition as the UK moves towards its net zero target has been a much-discussed topic. In June, a coalition of 57 charities sent an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for a clean energy transition that was just alongside being sustainable.
SSE itself stated in its answer that it believes that a just transition is one where consumers are provided with affordable energy and accessible energy services, communities where energy assets are located are seen as key stakeholders with comprehensive engagement on all key issues, current and future energy employees are regarded with respect and given “decent work” and the necessary investment in decarbonisation is secured.
To support this, SSE is to publish a statement by November 2021 of its principles and plans for a just transition. In its written answer, it outlined how it will support a fair transition “where it has the influence to do so”, pointing to how the transition will affect different groups of society in different ways.
"The principle must be to support the sharing of the benefits of climate action as widely as possible," it said.
This could include the creation of low carbon economic activity in a way that maximises the opportunity to a diverse range of people in local areas, as well sharing the value generated from renewable developments, a value SSE said it has "long promoted".
It would also be looking to tackle the challenge of supporting employees through any transition that takes place by working with regulators and policymakers on charging methodologies to share costs fairly and undertake meaningful engagement with local communities when change is being proposed.
In his speech, chair of the Board, Richard Gillingwater CBE, said that the company can "look back with pride" at the way it played its part in the COVID-19 pandemic by "maintaining critical energy supplies, while also setting a solid platform for growth".
However, he also made note of Ofgem's draft determination on SSEN Transmission's ‘A Network for Net Zero’ business plan proposing a minimum total expenditure of close to £2.4bn up to 2026. Gillingwater said the company was "disappointed" with the determination, adding that "we remain concerned about the implications of this for the UK’s ability to deliver a green recovery and meet its net zero ambition".
The company will continue to engage with Ofgem and other stakeholders on this during consultations, however, outlining the investment in building the networks required to deliver a zero-carbon energy system and the "need for that investment to be rewarded with adequate returns".