Energy majors SSE, ScottishPower and National Grid, together with the NatWest Group have been announced as the first sponsors of the COP26 climate change summit.
The companies have been chosen as the Principal Partners due to their commitment to credible science-based carbon emission reduction plans that are in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement according to COP26 President Alok Sharma.
“When it comes to climate action, we all have an important role to play,” he added. “Only by continuing to come together can we build the zero carbon, climate resilient future that is essential for our people and our planet.”
COP26 is set to be held in Glasgow in November 2021, having been pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK government has committed to releasing a Net Zero Strategy for the country ahead of the summit, which will see the eyes of the world on the UK and its progress with decarbonisation.
Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower, said tacking climate change and delivering the infrastructure needed for Net Zero in the UK offered a “huge opportunity”.
“For Glasgow, our operational headquarters, COP26 offers a fantastic opportunity to showcase what has already been achieved in the UK on the journey to Net Zero and to learn from others the steps needed to ensure we meet our climate change targets. We’re very proud to be able to play a part in it.
“The next five years are absolutely critical and we will be investing £10bn in the clean energy generation and networks infrastructure needed to help the UK decarbonise.”
The announcement comes as the three energy companies confirmed they are developing a multi-billion pound ‘electric super-highway’ in the North Sea. The Eastern Link will have a combined capacity of up to 4GW and will use some of the world’s longest subsea HVDC cables, covering 440km to connect Scotland and north east England.
Nicola Shaw, UK executive director at National Grid, said the project will “become part of the backbone of the UK’s energy system” by helping to transport enough renewable electricity for 4.5 million homes.
“It’s a great example of companies working together on impressive engineering feats that will help the country hit its net zero carbon target by 2050.”
This is expected to significantly increase the UK’s renewable energy capacity, with the east coast of Scotland already being home to almost 1GW of operational offshore wind farms. There is a further 4.4GW in the pipeline, and up to 10GW predicted following the next Scottish offshore wind leasing round, Scotwind.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson increased the UK’s offshore wind target to 40GW by 2030 in October, with the goal of “offshore wind powering every home in the country” in the next decade.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE, said the Eastern Link will be essential to meeting this increased target, along with being “one of the most exciting energy developments over recent decades”.
“With the eyes on the UK ahead of COP26 next year, this project clearly demonstrates how the UK is leading the world in tackling the climate emergency and supporting thousands of jobs and supply chain opportunities.”