By Heather Norris Nicholson
This week we’re looking at how Northern Gas Networks aims to meet its sustainable development goals.
The other day, millions of BBC One viewers were reduced to tears by Sir David Attenborough’s powerful plea for human action to tackle the appalling loss of biodiversity and accelerating destruction of ecosystems that impact upon lives everywhere.
The urgent need to safeguard natural systems ties directly to our own welfare, water and food security. The health of the planet and every living creature on it depends on responsibility at all levels. Making decisions and taking action that helps the well-being of the planet should be part of everyday thinking from individual to corporate level.
Back in 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). These goals aim to tackle extreme poverty, inequality, and climate change by 2030. Every business needs to contribute to these Global Goals if they are to be achieved. For Mark Horsley, NGN’s Chief Executive Officer, it makes sense to embed sustainability into NGN’s practice.
Mark Horsley says that these SDGs provide ‘a common framework for achieving a better future – one which allows the entire energy sector to generate positive local impact while also understanding their contribution towards global goals’.
NGN is committed to the principles of all 17 SDGs and has assessed how to find ways of contributing to them. The company has prioritised 6 goals that are most relevant to its business activities and its work in partnership with its stakeholders.
Responding to climate change is vital. NGN has set itself the challenge of meeting carbon targets by reducing direct carbon emissions, reducing and responding quickly to gas leaks. It plans to convert 50% of its vehicles to low emission or hybrid by 2026 and provide EV charging.
Another key goal is to provide affordable and clean energy. NGN has set targets to achieve a minimum 8% reduction in average customer bills by 2026 (compared to 2021). As fuel poverty affects many vulnerable households, NGN has a scheme to help people keep warm and healthy, and to budget wisely.
One priority SDG for NGN is to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. That involves finding ways to reduce the gender pay gap and create work opportunities for local communities. Currently only 5% of the sector’s employees are from black, Asian or minority ethnic groups compared to 15% nationally, and NGN’s workforce reflects this same lack of diversity so taking steps to improve recruitment, training and career opportunities is good news for the well-being of our own region’s diverse populations.
NGN is committed to developing a strong infrastructure and that means looking for ways to maximise efficiency in maintaining its extensive networks and minimising gas leaks. Routine tasks are disruptive but they are needed to maintain a strong infrastructure that keeps customers safe and connected to their fuel supply. Maintaining networks is increasingly done with more coordinated planning and in consultant with third parties.
Making people and places sustainable is another crucial SDG goal. NGN’s projects are assessed so that they encourage safety, resilience and sustainability. Supporting community projects, planting trees (a target of 40,000 by 2026) and raising public awareness of carbon monoxide risks are some of the schemes that NGN currently has in place across the region to strengthen, support and enhance local lives.
Meeting sustainability goals affects every part of NGN’s activity.
There are targets to reduce waste and support sustainable consumption in all areas of business and through their supply chain, including an end by 2026 to single use plastics in all offices and depots and a scheme to reduce office and depot waste by 20% (cf 2017-18).
These may seem small steps but if everyone could make commitments to reduce, recycle and reuse, we could help to lessen the human impact on the planet. The future we offer to the next generation depends urgently on our actions now.
NGN has been awarded a maximum four star rating on supportthegoals.org for sharing its plans, commitments, actions, and progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Northern Gas Networks delivers gas to 2.7 million homes and businesses in the North East, Northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire. They employ 1,300 people, as well as providing regular work to approximately 800 contractors.
Kirklees Local TV is working in partnership with NGN to highlight and promote the work they do across the region.