Energy Efficiency and Climate Change (Support for Products)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 13th September 2017.

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Photo of Stuart McMillan Stuart McMillan Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government what support it provides to companies selling products that improve energy efficiency and tackle climate change. (S5O-01225)

Photo of Kenneth Macintosh Kenneth Macintosh Labour

I think that the microphones might need to be turned up, but I invite the cabinet secretary to proceed, in a loud voice.

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government provides support to companies through our enterprise agencies. For instance, Scottish Enterprise works with businesses to understand the business opportunities of low-carbon products and services and provides support with product or service development where appropriate.

The Scottish Government also supports the sustainable energy supply chain programme via the Energy Saving Trust and Resource Efficient Scotland. The programme supports businesses across Scotland to help build capacity and aids in maximising their share of spend from various Scottish and United Kingdom Government programmes.

Photo of Stuart McMillan Stuart McMillan Scottish National Party

Two businesses in my constituency, one of which the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy visited a couple of weeks ago, provide various products and services that improve energy efficiency in buildings across the country. What assistance is provided to businesses to help them to fully test their products and get them to market, which could have a beneficial effect on the environment, the economy and job creation?

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

As I indicated, a wide range of services are available to companies through the enterprise agencies and universities to support their innovation journey from initial concept development to market launch. The support ranges from expert advisory services to support with raising investment and grant funding to develop new products and invest in research and development. For instance, SMART Scotland provides grants to small and medium-sized enterprises that are based in Scotland to help them to undertake technical feasibility studies and R and D projects that have a commercial end point. Information on the full range of services and contact information are provided on the Scottish Enterprise website.

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

What efforts has the UK Government made to seek the Scottish Government’s opinion on the each home counts review and the improved standards framework for installation of energy efficiency products, particularly in light of the fact that hundreds of consumers in Scotland continue to suffer financial hardship as a result of issues with the UK Government’s previous green deal initiative?

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has long held the view that the UK Government needs to strengthen its consumer protection frameworks to ensure that customers are well protected. We therefore welcomed the each home counts review when it was first announced, when officials met Dr Bonfield to share best practice and offer examples of areas where things needed to be improved.

We recognise that the recommendations from the review are really just the start of the process and that further details will need to be developed. We are considering carefully the review’s recommendations as part of developing Scotland’s energy efficiency programme. We will continue to liaise with the UK Government to understand better how it is building on the report’s recommendations and ensuring that proposals for improving consumer protection are fully implemented.

Photo of Alexander Burnett Alexander Burnett Conservative

Companies should be properly supported not only to make products that help to tackle climate change but to transport them in a greener and more low-carbon way. Will the new plans for low-emission zones that were outlined in the programme for government also include urban consolidation hubs for goods vehicles, given that transport emissions have not fallen under this Scottish National Party Government?

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

That is one of the things that we are consulting on. As the member might be aware, on 9 September—I think that that was the date—we launched the consultation on low-emission zones, which includes reference to precisely the issue that he raised. Low-emission zones will of course be developed in conversation with local authorities. They might look like an attractive option for many local authorities, but at this stage we are not mandating specific frameworks for low-emission zones—they will be developed over time. I invite the member to look at the consultation. He might also wish to advise others to have an input on that specific issue.

Photo of Lewis Macdonald Lewis Macdonald Labour

The cabinet secretary will be aware of widespread concern in the north-east about the First Minister’s decision to wind up the energy jobs task force after she attends its final meeting today.

In that context, what new initiatives will the Scottish Government take to support and encourage oil and gas service companies to provide their experience and knowledge of engineering, construction, commissioning and maintenance to large projects, such as the Moray offshore wind project, that are designed to tackle climate change and which really need the expertise of the existing North Sea industries?

The Presiding Officer:

That is quite a broad question, but perhaps the minister can succinctly answer the part of it that applies to her.

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

I will struggle to bring that within the remit of my portfolio, but I am aware that some of the aspects that the member raised are germane to my previous portfolio responsibilities in fair work, skills and training. If he wishes to have a much more detailed conversation on that with one of my colleagues, either Paul Wheelhouse or Keith Brown will be only too happy to oblige.