Scotland must move to a low carbon economy more quickly, says Nicola Sturgeon
Scotland should be generating greater benefits from the growth of the renewable energy sector, Nicola Sturgeon has conceded.
With a recent report from the STUC warning that only 46,000 jobs had been created in the Low Carbon Renewable Energy (LCRE) sector, despite previous Scottish Government forecasts for 130,000 new jobs to be delivered by 2020, the First Minister faced questions from Scottish Labour over her approach to transitioning to a low carbon economy.
The STUC found 21,400 new jobs had been created by the sector directly, with a further 25,000 indirect jobs.
The report, ‘Broken promises and offshored jobs’ found the gap between projected jobs and those delivered stemmed from a failure to build a Scottish supply chain through producing, and ideally exporting, domestic content rather than importing from overseas.
The STUC report highlighted “the failure of industrial policy to ensure that workers, businesses and Government in Scotland benefit from Scotland’s natural resources”, adding: “Without a domestic industrial base for the LCRE economy, not only will workers in Scotland miss out, but there are serious implications in terms of tax, transparency, economic democracy and meeting climate targets.”
Facing questions from Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, the FM said: “On jobs, there are, today, around 50,000 jobs across our economy as a result of the move to renewable and low-carbon energy. The turnover from that sector is around £11bn a year, but I have been very frank that Scotland is not yet doing as well on that front as we should be.”
She added: “We are determined to see the benefit in our economy’s supply chain. One factor – it is not the only one – is that we do not hold all the levers, which is why we invited the United Kingdom Government to take part in the summit today. I hope that I would have Richard Leonard’s support if we have to ask for greater powers to deal with that issue, but I want to see us take action now.
“I want us to maximise the levers that are at our disposal and to see that number of around 50,000 jobs, which aligns with the figures from the trade unions, increase dramatically over the years to come. There is a massive opportunity, and I am determined that we seize it with both hands.”
The FM also faced questions from Alison Johnstone over her “change of heart in declaring a climate emergency” at the SNP conference last week, with the Scottish Green MSP asking “what immediate changes in Government policy does the First Minister plan to make, now that she has recognised the climate emergency?”
Responding, the SNP leader responded to say: “On our commitment to recognise the climate emergency, the first thing that we have done is to increase the scale of our targets. We will now look at our climate change plan and bring out a revised plan within six months of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill becoming an act.
“As I said to Richard Leonard, we will look across our whole range of responsibilities to make sure that we continue with the policies that are under way and that we increase action where that is necessary. The advice of the CCC and of non-governmental organisations will be important to us as we do that.”