National Grid plc – Annual report – 31 March 2020
Strategic Report (extract 1)
Progress against our strategy (extract)
Strategic Report (extract 2)
Our commitment to being a responsible business (extract)
Environmental: The path to net zero
We are embracing our role at the heart of the energy system and understand the critical role we play in tackling climate change. The markets in which we operate have announced ambitious carbon reduction targets and further legislative actions are anticipated in all our markets. These targets will be challenging and we embrace the opportunity to support the delivery of these goals.
While the biggest impact we can have is supporting the economy-wide clean energy transition, it is important we also reduce our own direct impact on the environment.
In 2012, we developed our environmental sustainability strategy, “Our Contribution”, to set a framework for embedding sustainable decision-making into our business operations. We focused on three key areas – climate change, responsible use of natural resources and caring for the natural environment – and set targets to deliver progress through the end of 2020. In 2019/20, we have continued to advance our work.
We continue to focus on carbon reduction being factored into both our major investment decisions and our tender process for major construction projects. These actions encourage not only our teams, but also our supply chain to deliver lower-carbon solutions. Supply chain emissions are classified as Scope 3 emissions and, as such, the tender carbon weighting will help us reduce our Scope 3 emissions.
We also have programmes in place to ensure that we are making improvements to the natural environment. One such programme focuses us on finding better ways to deliver an increase in environmental benefits on non-operational land, while working with local partners and communities.
Work under this programme prioritises local environmental benefits, for example increasing pollination, community access to green space and bio-diversity (see the Pollinator Meadow Project case study below).
Case study – US
Pollinator Meadow Project – Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Our electric transmission corridors must be regularly maintained to prevent vegetation from endangering the wires. We see this as an opportunity to practise environmental stewardship.
As meadows are becoming rare as more New England pastures grow back into forests, transmission line corridors are increasingly important as low growing-shrub and meadow habitat. To assess the viability and practicality of incorporating wildflower plantings into our vegetation management program, we implemented a pollinator pilot project in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. During this pilot, we converted almost two acres of transmission line corridor to wildflower meadow. The project was a success and the flowers continue to flourish. We will continue to monitor the project and are committed to creating at least one new pollinator site in the US per year, over the next five years.
Projects like these not only help the environment, but also allow us to build connections with local environmental organisations and customers and increase public understanding of our vegetation management programmes.
Case study – UK
Chairman’s Awards: Save Evie’s Whale
The annual Chairman’s Awards are a demonstration of how we use governance to bring our purpose, vision and values and the role we play in society to life. Every year more than 150 teams submit entries that show how the work we do at National Grid contributes positively to our people, our customers and communities now and in the future.
In 2019 the “Save Evie’s Whale” campaign was chosen as the winner of the Chairman’s Awards at an event in New York. The campaign was inspired by Evie O’Grady, the seven-year-old daughter of one of our employees, who made a drawing of a whale – because she was so upset about the number of whales dying due to plastic pollution in our oceans. Evie’s drawing and her story became an inspiration to encourage employees to think about the environmental impact of single-use plastics. In June 2019 we made a commitment to remove single-use plastics from sale at our UK offices by 2020.
The “Save Evie’s Whale” campaign brought that commitment to life and provided a platform to engage with employees and suppliers about reusable cups and other materials, and effective recycling behaviours. Piloted in our Warwick UK offices, with the campaign we have successfully eliminated plastic straws and plastic cutlery and eliminated over 46,000 polystyrene containers and 22,000 plastic containers going into general waste annually. The programme also created significant cost savings by reducing the use of consumables, improving recycling rates, and cutting the volume of waste generated. “Save Evie’s Whale” has since been rolled out in offices across the UK, and also at local schools and community groups, inspiring behaviour change in society. Over 4 million pieces of single-use plastic have so far been eliminated.
Building on earlier actions to manage office waste, we launched waste reduction campaigns across our offices in the UK and the US. In the UK we have eliminated over four million items of single-use plastics, mainly related to food and beverages (see the Save Evie’s Whale case study on the previous page). In 2019, we also diverted 95% of office waste from our targeted sites away from landfill, and are aiming to complete work at the remaining sites in 2020.
Our Further Commitments to Reducing our Impact and Achieving Net Zero
As we work to meet our 2020 ‘Our Contribution’ commitments, we will continue to reduce our carbon footprint, maximise the value of our resources and enhance the environment; however, we recognise that we can do more to combat climate change and improve the environment. To accomplish this, as part of our Responsible Business review, we are developing new metrics and targets to further challenge us and allow for monitoring and evaluating our performance. These will be announced later this year.
The cornerstone of our revised targets is our commitment to achieve net zero for our scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 that was announced in November 2019. This replaces our previous target of an 80% reduction by 2050 to better align with our ambitions. We also set more ambitious interim targets for our emissions reductions of 80% by 2030 and 90% by 2040.
To achieve these targets, we will also progress our emission reductions by continuing, and accelerating, current emissions reduction programmes, and by looking for new, innovative ways to reduce our emissions. We are reducing leakage from our gas pipelines through our gas mains replacement programmes and through innovative robotic pipe sealing techniques. We are piloting the use of parts of our gas network for the distribution of hydrogen and RNG. We are working with suppliers to evaluate potential alternatives to SF6.
Energy efficiency is one of our key focus areas. We have ongoing energy reduction targets in our US and UK core office facilities. As an example of our progress, in the UK, we have exceeded our target by reducing energy consumption by 11% from a 2015/16 baseline. In the US, we performed whole-building LED replacements at two of our key locations and expect to yield annual site electricity savings of 6% and 17%. We are also working to reduce our transport energy use through the purchase of alternative fuel fleet vehicles and employee programmes promoting the purchase/lease of electric vehicles.
For the US and UK, our operational energy use is 2,330 GWh, our facilities energy use is 285 GWh, our transport energy use is 405 GWh and electricity energy losses from our networks are 12,311 GWh. US generation is also responsible for 12,892 GWh. In these figures, facilities energy use is defined as the energy used in powering and heating our offices, whilst operational energy accounts for energy used in fulfilling our primary business. Transport covers business travel, including our own fleet, hire cars and personal car use for business.