Andy Scargill Executive Director of Environment, Safety, Health (ESH) & Quality
Today, we’re marking World Environment Day – a national day that encourages worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.
It’s inspiring to see so much passion for protecting the environment with many of us keen to play a part in ensuring the future is as rewarding for coming generations as it has been for ours. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face today, and we need to make sure it’s an issue that’s front and centre.
Here are three key learnings I’ve taken away this year – learnings that have changed the way we think about growing responsibly and realising our long-term goals:
Drive improvement through data and targets.
As this year’s theme for World Environment Day is “reimagine, recreate, and restore”, it’s only fitting that we discuss our Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), which outlines AWE’s long- term plans to restore and protect biodiversity on our sites. In our BAP, we have committed to undertaking surveys to better understand our sites’ biodiversity. Data from these will also be shared with conservation organisations to improve wider understanding of our sites. These regular surveys will be key to driving improvement and progress, not only on our immediate sites, but those of the local communities as well.
Already through our Environment Sustainability Strategy, we have not only set ambitious goals on how we improve existing ways of working but also how we are constructing the future.
Taking a scientific approach to the environment means we can set realistic, but highly ambitious targets for ourselves. In 2019, we worked with the Carbon Trust to set science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions on our sites in Aldermaston, Burghfield, and Blacknest. We’re working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and cut annual carbon emissions by 80% by 2050,
Bring everyone on the journey.
Collaboration is critical to our approach, and our focus on the environment needs to be put into processes and procedures so that all business decisions take sustainability into account.
With this in mind, leadership buy-in is essential. Our CEO is committed to our 2030 carbon goal, and when it comes to my work at AWE, my main focus has been to ensure that all our work related to Safety, Environment, Security, Wellbeing, and Quality fit under the wider corporate strategy. Along with the Ministry of Defence, we have been looking at opportunities to enable us to meet and exceed Government targets in a sustainable and responsible way.
But it’s not just the executives we need to consider; we also have to engage with our teams and external suppliers. Like many other companies, AWE must deal with legacy systems, especially around waste, dated assets and processes. I believe the best way to achieve our targets is to bring our value chain on board, engage with and communicate transparently with people who share similar goals, so everyone benefits from our plans.
Look beyond your direct impact. As part of my role at AWE, I work to embed the “Culture of Care” into everything we do. This means getting staff to speak up, listen up and follow up when it comes to ESH&Q. In the future, I see this evolving into a more forward-looking innovative role rather than reactive. Businesses need to focus on sustainability and wellbeing as a way of life, not a requirement of the job.
It’s also important we look beyond our business and into its social and local impact on our surrounding communities. As part of our Biodiversity Net Gain scheme, we are ensuring every large development project onsite improves local biodiversity by 10% – be it through avoiding, minimising, or compensating for biodiversity loss. We also hold a strong relationship with our stakeholders and support local causes that benefit the wider community.
Now is the time to take action on climate change – I’m proud to be part of AWE’s exciting commitments to protecting and restoring the environment, and ultimately, tackle the global issue of climate change.
Happy World Environment Day, everyone!