Post-Paris Agreement: Understanding SSE’s resilience to climate change

SSE’s core purpose is to provide energy in a reliable and sustainable way. This means it must have a long-term perspective. It operates hydro-electric power stations that are well over 60 years old and is building new electricity transmission lines and cables that should last another 50 years. In other words, SSE has always been a company that considers the long term sustainability of its businesses.

In response to important questions raised to us by our stakeholders, today we publish for the first time a report analysing the company’s long term resilience to different pathways designed to avoid dangerous climate change.  

The Paris Agreement on climate change agreed to seek to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. This resilience report, therefore, seeks to analyse the impact of both a 2°C and 1.5°C scenario on SSE at the same time as modelling a ‘no progress’ scenario - one that would be consistent with global temperatures rising by 4°C.

The report shows that in each of the scenarios assessed, SSE is well placed to respond to the opportunities and challenges that may arise from the different climate change scenarios. The combination, and balanced range, of its valuable electricity distribution, transmission and generating assets are found to be vital to Great Britain’s electricity system over the long term and in the three scenarios reviewed. SSE would also endeavour to play its role in supporting the UK to adapt to the changes brought about by climate change.  

SSE also believes that the optionality it has within its development portfolio puts it in an advantageous position in the medium term to support the UK to respond to new opportunities and challenges that climate change mitigation may bring.  

From the outset of this work, SSE recognises there are business risks associated with a failure, both nationally and internationally, to meet the carbon emission reductions associated with these scenarios. If failure becomes apparent in the medium term, then the likelihood of a less-orderly policy and market response may in itself pose business risks for SSE. SSE will therefore, continue to make the case for the existence of a carbon price that properly and accurately reflects the true cost of carbon. Such a framework is vital to deliver the most cost effective transition to a secure, low carbon electricity system in Great Britain and we will continue to work with our stakeholders to make that case.

This is the first time SSE has published such a report. It is therefore particularly keen to ensure its analysis and disclosures are in line with stakeholders’ expectations and so would welcome any feedback or comments on the report or the issues it covers.

Read the full report here.

About the author

Rachel McEwen Director of Sustainability

Rachel is Director of Sustainability for SSE. She is part of the Corporate Affairs directorate and works with SSE's businesses to identify and articulate SSE's social, economic and environmental impacts. She is responsible for SSE's corporate social responsibility programmes and stakeholder and media communications for its wholesale businesses.

Read more articles by Rachel McEwen