And What Have You Done for the Environment Lately?

By Hitchens, Eric | New Statesman (1996), September 25, 1998 | Go to article overview

And What Have You Done for the Environment Lately?


Hitchens, Eric, New Statesman (1996)


Erin Hitchens asked the heads of leading British energy companies to nominate their best green initiative. Here's what they said

Sir John Browne Group chief executive, BP

It would be invidious for me to single out any one initiative as outshining the rest. However, the internal emissions trading system we are about to introduce is something which, if it succeeds and is adopted by others, could help arrest the increase in greenhouse gases. Put simply, 12 of our 90 business units around the world will trade permits that give them a commercial incentive to compete with each other to reduce emissions from their activities. If it works, as I believe it will, we will apply it across the company and use the result to persuade governments that market mechanisms offer an efficient and cost-effective means of achieving a sustainably cleaner and safer world.

Peter Hollins Chief executive, British Energy plc

It's deceptively simple. It's recognising the importance of a coherent, comprehensive approach to managing all the environmental aspects of our business - and sustaining that approach year on year. The best thing we're doing for the environment is simply running our eight nuclear power stations cleanly and efficiently. They don't produce carbon dioxide or acid rain emissions, and effectively balance the global warming effects of running over half Britain's road vehicles. I believe that, without us, the UK would find it hard to come within a country mile of achieving its international environmental commitments.

Pat O'Brien Managing director, Opencast Operations, RJB Mining

I would say that one of our best environmental initiatives is the Orgreave site in South Yorkshire. When we started work at Orgreave in 1995, the landscape was scarred with derelict buildings, and four million tons of contaminated waste. We are moving this waste into a purpose-built sealed cell on the site. The containment of this waste will prevent it from polluting the ground, groundwater and the adjacent River Rother. This reclamation is supported by the Environment Agency, which is closely involved through regulation of our water and waste-management activities. I would cite Orgreave as a good example of sustainable development working in practice.

Roger Young Chief executive, Scottish Hydro-Electric

We are investing more than [pounds]200 million to increase the efficiency at which our Peterhead power station converts gas to electricity from about 38 per cent to 55 per cent. To produce each unit of electricity, we will use 30 per cent less gas and emit 50 per cent less carbon dioxide and 85 per cent less nitrogen dioxide. This is the UK's largest energy efficiency project - the energy saved will be equivalent to the total household energy use in Glasgow. …

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