A Greener Journey – the road to net zero

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5th November 2021

A Greener Journey – the road to net zero

My name is Victory Luke. I am the eldest child in my family, with three younger siblings who often talk to me about what they want to do when they grow up. But I feel worried, and I feel scared for them because I don’t know for certain that the world they see today will be the world they grow up in.

A recent study conducted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found the effects of climate change could be irreversible by the year 2030. Greenhouse gases are at an all-time high, causing rising temperatures, which in turn causes the mass migration and mass extinction of plants and animals. As the UN Secretary General so aptly put it, humanity is facing a code red situation.

As a young person growing up with all this happening around me, I can’t help but be frustrated knowing that we could have tackled this problem years ago. However, we paid no heed. We belittled, shamed and undermined researchers and scientists who spoke about this issue. We called it a myth, opting to believe a convenient lie over an inconvenient truth. Now, we’re scrambling to fix the problem, desperately trying to beat the clock, racing against time.

Action

I learned so much from SSE’s Generation Green challenge at school and through my work with SSE to date. It helped to show me that the key to reversing the devastating aspects of climate change is action. While it’s better late than never, and although it seems like a painstakingly slow process, changes are being made and action is being taken. The Irish Government has a climate action plan, which sets out almost 475 actions that will make Ireland a cleaner, greener, more energy efficient place to grow up.

The plan calls on us to change how we live, how we heat our homes, how we travel, how we generate power and how we manage our waste. It may seem like a daunting task but there are already so many people, communities and businesses that have stepped up to the challenge.

In my community the platform for action was built through partnership. On a practical level a partnership with Microsoft, the SEAI and SSE Airtricity supported my school in installing solar panels and changing every light fixture to LED bulbs. I also had the opportunity to lead a team of students in a project to educate our community on the benefits of energy efficiency and the importance of living sustainably.

Little did we know the ripple effect our project would have on the community. At the beginning we thought we’d just be teaching the students, planting a small seed, but really, we were building a bridge that connected the whole community and joined forces in hope of a greener and a brighter future.

In my opinion, there is so much being done and there are many people taking action, showing leadership, initiative and imagination. I’m glad to see political leaders shaping legislation and regulations that force action and will push all of us to make changes and invest in our own future.

A greener journey

A new attitude towards addressing climate change is emerging. For me, being asked to speak at the International Energy Agency’s fourth annual Global Conference on Energy Efficiency really demonstrated that. It showed me that, as a young person, people in charge were willing to hear my opinion – to hear my thoughts and my concerns.

I recently attended a climate action event in Belfast ahead of COP26. A moment in history I won’t forget. Along with the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Chambers Ireland, SSE made history, bringing together the main political leaders on the island of Ireland to discuss the all-island approach to tackling climate change. Hearing Northern Ireland's First Minister Paul Givan, Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and an Taoiseach Micheál Martin speak was really inspiring. I also met with changemakers at SSE, including Martin Pibworth, Commercial and Energy Director at SSE, Nikki Flanders, Managing Director of Energy Customer Solutions and Stuart Hobbs, Director of Energy Services.

A Greener Journey 2

Victory Luke meets Nikki Flanders, MD of SSE Energy Solutions.

Martin Pibworth was so generous with his time, answering my questions and asking me for my opinion on key issues. I learned about the potential of offshore wind and the projects near Arklow in Wicklow and Doggerbank near Yorkshire. It was really uplifting to hear the Taoiseach acknowledge the huge importance and opportunity presented by investment in offshore wind too. I really enjoyed meeting Nikki Flanders and sharing our views on speaking up from a young age on issues around climate action and diversity. Stuart Hobbs gave me a great insight into the Generation Green Home Upgrade and how using solar and better heating options for existing homes will contribute to reducing emissions.

It is clear to me that we have leaders in politics and business who want to do something, they want to make a difference. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that things are changing and harder again to believe that these changes are making an impact. But they are and they will. This is a fight unlike any other in history. For once, we’re not fighting against each other, we are fighting for each other.

With COP26 underway, I’m looking forward to the debate and discussions. Having another opportunity to voice my opinions and thoughts at the SSE "Let’s Power Change Together" event in Glasgow will be a highlight. I’ll be meeting key people driving change including Professor Brian Cox, the SSE Energy Solutions team and their energy customers.

Together with SSE, I’m on a greener journey – exploring how we can all power change together. Now is the time to focus our efforts on achieving real and meaningful change. For us and for future generations.

Follow A Greener Journey @sseairtricity or on learn more on the Generation Green hub.

Join Victory as she goes on A Greener Journey. This month Victory visited the first all-island climate event in Belfast and the National Geographic ‘Planet or Plastic’ exhibition.