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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
18 February 2023
Anas Sarwar wants a partnership with existing industry to achieve a just transition

Anas Sarwar at Scottish Labour spring conference | Credit: Andrew Perry

Anas Sarwar wants a partnership with existing industry to achieve a just transition

Anas Sarwar has said there needs to be a partnership with existing industry as Scotland makes a just transition to net zero.  

Speaking at a Holyrood fringe event, in partnership with OEUK, at Scottish Labour's spring conference, he told delegates that in order to deliver on the key principles of achieving net zero, the approach has to be a jobs first approach, and the leaders in the oil and gas sector must be involved.

The Scottish Labour leader signposted three areas that his party would focus on if they were elected to government. He said: “That means creating more jobs, lowering people’s bills permanently, and energy security, meaning that we are not relying on big imports from abroad.”  

Sarwar spoke about the proposed Great British Energy Company and what impact it would have on the current industry as a publicly owned entity. The “development of the Scottish arm” will not mean that Labour will “nationalise the industry”.

“It is about saying how do we give you the confidence to make the investments as an industry and we will take a stake in that in that to give you the confidence to demonstrate that it is a national priority, and to get things like carbon capture, the Acorn project, and others right across the country to. That is a firm commitment from Labour.  

He was clear to point out that he was aware that there are headlines of huge profits, and the debate on the windfall tax, “which we support and amplify” but “there are tens of thousands of workers who rely on the industry and if we are going to have a just transition, it must be a jobs first approach”.  

This was echoed by Colin Smyth MSP, Scottish Labour's spokesperson on net zero . He told delegates that they are “very conscious that the energy sector plays an enormous part in not only meeting our energy needs in Scotland, but also meeting our employment needs ”.

He added: “The difference of what Labour’s approach to energy will be compared to the SNP is that ours will be a jobs-lead transition.”

Smyth criticised the SNP’s approach to Scotland’s journey to net zero, pointing out what he describes as the lack of leadership at COP27, “but also the lack of leadership in Scotland as well”.

“We have at the moment in Scotland some of the most ambitious targets, net zero by 2045, 75 per cent reduction by 2030. But what the SNP- Green government doesn't have is a plan to deliver that.

“The Climate Change Committee report card on the Scottish Government’s performance was absolutely scathing; seven of 11 of our statutory targets are being missed. We really need to step up our game when it comes to delivering the policies that will get us to net zero.”

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