– in the Scottish Parliament on 15th January 2019.
The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-15380, in the name of Roseanna Cunningham, on securing a just transition to a carbon-neutral economy.
I have great pleasure in opening this debate on Scotland’s transition to a carbon-neutral economy, which is the first such debate for the Parliament. I expect that the Parliament will return to the issue of a just transition in one form or another many times, but I hope that we can reach consensus today on the type of transition that we want.
We all know that the central aim of the Paris agreement is to keep the global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. However, this debate focuses on the part of the Paris agreement that says that we must also take into account
“the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs”.
That is central to the Government’s economic strategy. In a happy coincidence, it was when I was the Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training in 2015 that we established the fair work convention to identify and promote existing good practice. We have endorsed the convention’s vision that
“by 2025, people in Scotland will have a world-leading working life where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses, organisations and society.”
Our taking into account the imperatives of decent work and quality jobs as we increase our efforts to tackle climate change is a natural step. The First Minister had no hesitation in supporting the “Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration”, which was adopted at the climate talks in Poland last month. That declaration stresses the need for a shift in thinking to recognise that decarbonisation and economic growth can and must go hand in hand.
Is the cabinet secretary aware that, largely as a result of President Obama’s efforts, there are 800,000 people in the renewables industry in the United States and only 50,000 in the coal industry? Here, where we have a more favourable environment, will we ensure that there will be excellent jobs in the renewable and other energy-source industries to which people in the oil industry, which has many years to go, will be able to migrate?
I am not sure that I was aware of the specific numbers of people in those employment sectors in America, but I was aware of the general sense that coal plays a less great part than renewables and that the President was perhaps not entirely aware of that. It is important to remember that the kind of transition that we are talking about can be disruptive if it is not handled carefully and well.
As I was saying, it is very important that we see decarbonisation and economic growth going hand in hand.
The “Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration” notes the importance of social dialogue for promoting high employment rates and wellbeing in plans to reduce emissions, and it highlights the importance of sharing experience internationally. I will touch on all those points during my speech.
Emissions of greenhouse gases from Scotland have almost halved since 1990. During that time, we have seen Scotland’s gross domestic product increase by 55 per cent, and unemployment has fallen to 3.7 per cent, which is its lowest rate on record. Between 2007 and 2016, Scotland’s productivity growth was higher than that of any other country or region of the United Kingdom, including London. Evidently, then, we do not have to choose between tackling climate change and growing the economy. We can, should and must do both.
We need a carbon-neutral future in which domestic industry continues not just to exist but to thrive, and it will take global effort if we are to avoid industry just bailing out to low-regulation countries. That is why our economic action plan focuses on ways to enhance support to business, places and people across Scotland. The aim is explicit: to put Scotland at the forefront in the transition to a carbon-neutral circular economy. For example, the £12 million transition training fund that is targeted at the oil and gas sector and its supply chain is helping people who have been made redundant or who are currently at risk of redundancy to retrain or upskill.
In transport, we are working with the energy skills partnership and others to make sure that support is available to develop the skills that are required to maintain and service ultra-low emission vehicles. We are also working with energy-intensive industries, building on existing programmes of support, to incentivise decarbonisation so that it is seen as an economic investment opportunity rather than a threat.
There are economic opportunities from being at the forefront of the global shift to carbon neutrality, but there are also risks and challenges that we cannot just wish away. Previous economic shifts, such as those in the 1980s, have left scars on our communities. History must not be allowed to repeat itself; decarbonisation should not happen at the expense of our workforce and our communities.
There is a real opportunity for us, now, to think about how we want our transition to carbon neutrality to be effected. It is an opportunity to consider whether the changes that are needed to reduce emissions might also present opportunities to tackle inequalities and increase regional cohesion.
Whatever climate targets Parliament decides on as we debate the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill, we know that there will be difficult but necessary decisions ahead as we do our bit to limit global temperature rise. Those decisions will impact all sectors of the economy and all our constituents. It is vital that we start a conversation now, and make sure that all voices are heard.
To begin that work, I have, as members know, established a just transition commission. Over an initial period of two years, it will explore how to apply the principles of just transition to Scotland: how we can plan, invest and implement a transition to environmentally and socially sustainable jobs, building on Scotland’s strengths and potential; how we can create opportunities to develop resource-efficient and sustainable economic approaches that help to address inequality and poverty; and how we can deliver low-carbon investment and infrastructure and create decent, fair and high-value work in a way that does not negatively affect the workforce and the overall economy. That work will show how overarching the just transition is.
Members now know that the finance secretary will close this debate, but equally it could have been closed by Aileen Campbell as the communities secretary. Our three portfolios have a strongly invested interest in ensuring that the just transition works as effectively as possible. These are cross-cutting issues, so the just transition commission will report to three separate cabinet secretaries, albeit that the issue primarily sits in my portfolio, which is for management reasons as much as anything else.
Our approach is similar to that of other states and countries that, like us, are at the vanguard of considering these issues. Last year, New York state established an environmental justice and just transition working group, and the Canadian Government set up a task force on a just transition for Canadian coal-power workers and communities. Both groups are non-statutory and tasked with providing advice to ministers.
Our commission is similar. It is chaired by Professor Jim Skea, an internationally renowned climate scientist and co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change mitigation working group. Until the end of last year, he was also the Scottish champion of the Committee on Climate Change. Professor Skea will be joined by 11 others representing a broad range of interests and sectors. Two environmental groups are represented: WWF and the 2050 Climate Group, which is a youth-run charity that empowers young people to tackle climate change. Trade unions are represented by Prospect and the Scottish Trades Union Congress. There are two renowned academics, four businesspeople from the chemical, oil and gas, renewables and farming industries and an expert on fuel poverty from the third sector.
Although broad membership of the commission is necessary—and should result in some helpful if occasionally heated debate—it is not in itself sufficient. The commission needs to reach out to and hear the opinions and concerns of people across the country. For that reason, I have tasked it with engaging meaningfully with workers, communities, non-governmental organisations, business and industry leaders and others across Scotland. In addition to having a representative of a youth group on the commission, I have asked it to seek and consider young people’s views. I want the commission to hear and be open to all points of view.
The commission will provide a set of recommendations for maximising the social and economic opportunities of moving to a carbon-neutral economy, for building on Scotland’s strengths and assets, and for understanding and mitigating the risks that could arise. I know that there are calls for the commission to be established as a statutory body and for it to last for more than two years. The way in which we have established it means that it can begin its work later this month and provide its recommendations in early 2021.
Of course, the work that is needed to deliver a fair transition to carbon neutrality cannot be done in two years; the commission is a first step and, although I believe that the principles of a just transition are the right ones for the coming decades, whether a commission will be needed over the same timescale is not clear. There might be alternative ways to embed the principles across the public and private sectors.
To an extent, we are already doing that. The pace at which the energy efficient Scotland programme is delivered, for example, is being carefully considered because of the fine balance between tackling fuel poverty and reducing emissions from domestic heating systems. We can—and must—do both simultaneously, but that requires careful planning while low-carbon heat technology is still the more expensive option. We must avoid tackling climate change at the cost of increasing fuel poverty, and vice versa.
The transition to a carbon-neutral economy provides a huge opportunity for jobs and skills. Energy efficient Scotland alone is forecast to support 4,000 jobs across the country once it is fully operational, and it is estimated that more than £12 billion from public and private sources will be spent over 20 years. As much as possible, we want the supply chains and the skills that are needed to come from within Scotland, including rural and remote areas. That means delivering the programme at an ambitious and realistic pace that allows for training and upskilling of local people to undertake the work in people’s homes.
I hope that our progress with energy efficient Scotland, the just transition commission and programmes such as the transition training fund will provide useful exemplars for other countries as they consider what a just transition should look like for them. Scotland is recognised internationally as a world leader in tackling climate change, and our approach to a just transition is also attracting attention. Last month, the UK Energy Research Centre recommended that the UK Government
“should consider setting up a process similar to Scotland’s Just Transitions Commission”.
In Poland last month, at the 24th conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the First Minister and I heard directly about approaches that are being taken in other countries, including Spain and New Zealand. At an event that the International Trade Union Confederation convened, I spoke of my desire for the just transition commission to engage widely and provide practical advice on embedding just transition principles.
In parallel to that, I mention that a just transition is a key ask of the International Trade Union Confederation, so I was a little surprised to see the response to the debate that was posted on the GMB’s website today. I hope that that arose more out of a misunderstanding than anything else. As I expect other members are, I am willing and able to talk directly to the GMB should it require that.
It was clear at the COP in Katowice that our work in Scotland has been noticed. We must continue in that fashion, which involves learning from others and sharing our learning with others. Our approach needs to be positive and optimistic about the opportunities that stem from decarbonisation, while being honest and up front about the challenges and risks. We need to build on our strengths and potential, and decarbonise as we grow an ever more inclusive economy.
We must transition to carbon neutrality in a way that is fair for all. That approach has guided my response to the amendments. We will accept the Conservative and Labour amendments, but I have concerns about the Green amendment, which we will not accept.
That the Parliament supports the application of just transition principles in Scotland, acknowledging the need to plan, invest in and implement a transition to carbon-neutrality in a way that is fair for all.
I refer members to my entry in the register of members’ interests. I welcome today’s debate and the Government motion, and I agree with the cabinet secretary that we can tackle climate change and grow the economy.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C delivers a sobering assessment of what lies in store for humanity if we fail to combat climate change, with tens of millions of people around the world facing drought, billions being subjected to extreme temperatures and biodiversity being dealt a devastating blow.
Scotland would not be spared: communities here would face increased flood risk. Our coastal towns, villages and homes would be threatened with oblivion—and that is before we consider the impact on our flora and fauna. Scotland is making progress, though, and our overall emissions are down by almost 50 per cent from 1990 levels, which is something that we can all welcome. However, progress has been lopsided: although we have seen our energy and waste sectors decarbonising, other areas—for example, transport—have seen little or no change.
More needs to be done if we are to meet future targets, but we must ensure that we are taking action that creates opportunities, rather than burdens and barriers, for individuals and businesses. The low-carbon future that we all want should be a future in which we all benefit.
Unfortunately, it has not always been the case that take such action. We should, for example, be proud of the remarkable growth in renewables that has allowed many communities across Scotland to access new funding streams to improve infrastructure and services. However, Scotland missed out on a massive opportunity when 20,000 low-carbon jobs that could have been created here in Scotland did not materialise. Our missing out on those jobs is a lesson that we should learn from, as we seek to establish a deposit return scheme and to decommission more North Sea oil and gas facilities.
Arguably, the oil and gas sector is most emblematic of the need to ensure a fair transition to a low-carbon economy. As the just transition partnership has pointed out,
“There has been little planning to ensure the protection of the people most affected, in particular those who work in sectors reliant on fossil fuels”.
That will not be achieved by tinkering around at the edges of our current system. We need a new model that is fairer, more sustainable and intrinsically better for our environment.
Does Maurice Golden agree that perhaps the oil and gas companies could do a little bit more to invest in renewable energies and to fund research and development to preserve their future?
I agree that oil and gas companies could do a lot more, even in terms of helping us to decommission and to get the most value from decommissioning. For example, infrared coding of oil and gas platforms to signify what alloys the platforms contain would allow us to decommission those facilities better.
There is also a lot more that companies could do to improve things in terms of design of facilities. We see that in the aerospace industry regularly, but there has, in the oil and gas sector, been overall reluctance to embrace resale of assets and even to keep paperwork so that turbines and generators can be sold on to other markets. There is a lot more that oil and gas companies, and the sector as a whole, can do.
The overall solution that answers Gillian Martin’s question and the one that I have posed in my remarks is to have a circular economy strategy. That option is the one that is best placed to capture as much value as possible from the estimated £50 billion that could be spent on North Sea oil and gas decommissioning by 2040. That represents an opportunity to create jobs in the north-east, and supply chain jobs throughout Scotland. We must look to reuse assets such as pipelines either within the industry itself or in other sectors such as construction, to which they are worth more than five times their scrap value.
Across all sectors, and according to Scottish Government reports, an ambitious circular economy programme could add more than 40,000 jobs to our economy, on top of the estimated 56,000 jobs that already exist. The jobs would have the potential to reduce unemployment in areas where jobs are most needed, and would have a high degree of durability, so that they would be likely to survive the hollowing out of the labour market.
The size of the prize is massive, which means that we must be ambitious. We have rightly set the bar high for the environmental side of our low-carbon transition; the same standard should apply to the economic aspect. That will require us to reassess how the Government leads on low-carbon policy. A good start would be to embed circular economy practice across all portfolio areas, and to make it a marker against which to judge future policy decisions.
Beyond that, we must see a deepening of the relationships between education, business and the third sector. The Scottish Conservatives have proposed the creation of new institutions including a design academy and an institute of reuse to help to co-ordinate such activities. That unified approach would allow us to identify better where to focus our efforts, which would enable a low-carbon economy that is driven by problem-led challenges that are relevant to Scotland.
For example, constraint payments are at a record high, but why pay energy providers to turn off production when we could use excess power to facilitate an electric arc furnace that recycles steel, while giving Scots jobs? That is an example of the joined-up thinking that produces better environmental outcomes, further reduces waste and generates additional economic activity.
Rural Scotland also stands to benefit greatly from that approach, and the Scottish Conservatives recently announced a package of measures to support food producers. We believe that we can offer those businesses the ability to recycle more and to extract more value from the waste that they produce, all while driving down costs and offering rural communities a bigger stake in our low-carbon economy. That would involve setting up a microplastic recycling facility and waste hubs, which would solve the problem of what farmers do with plastic waste, now that there is a ban on incinerating it. It would also help the environment as well as create jobs.
We have also proposed helping farmers and other food producers to set up on-site anaerobic digestion, including providing capital and technical support, which would allow production of energy and heat that would directly help them to lower their bills. Across Scotland, the proposal has the potential to generate an extra £27 million in value from energy generation. There is also the potential to work cross-sector by using excess heat to dry food waste in order to make it easier to transport for biorefining—an industry that could be worth £900 million by 2025.
If we want a truly just transformation, surely the way to go about that is to focus our efforts on the needs of Scottish families and businesses, and to encourage innovation and economic activity that use Scottish insight, Scottish workers and Scottish resources, in order to provide everyone with an opportunity to grow and prosper.
Of course, transforming our economy is not without risk, so we must be alert to the obstacles that we face when we ask individuals and businesses to invest in Scotland. The most obvious obstacle is our size: on many fronts Scotland simply cannot outspend larger competitors or field initiatives of the scale that they can field. One solution is to specialise by progressing a handful of strategies that best suit our needs, while we also benefit from large-scale projects that operate at UK level.
Having looked at the other amendments to the motion, we are interested to hear from Scottish Labour, but overall we are comfortable with the current situation and do not feel that there is a requirement for a statutory commission. In respect of the Green amendment, the end of our oil and gas sector should not happen just by any manner or means, so we are not at all comfortable with the proposition that is set out in the amendment.
We believe that innovation is what drives economies forward. Hand in hand with transitioning to a low-carbon economy, we should be building a culture that rewards those who are willing to experiment and to push the envelope of success. Success is what we need to ensure that the transition to a low-carbon economy is positive for every family, community and business.
I move S5M-15380.2, to insert at end:
", and believes that implementing a circular economy strategy for Scotland is an effective and sustainable way to bring about this transition."
This debate on just transition principles is very significant for the fair future of Scotland’s economy and society in the global context. My party will support the Scottish Government motion, which recognises how essential a just transition is as we shift to carbon neutrality and net zero emissions. Just transition principles are fundamental to the international labour movement, and I am pleased to speak today on behalf of Scottish Labour.
Last year’s special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told us that 0.5°C of warming would put hundreds of millions of people at risk of climate-related poverty. Governments the world over need to really hear and heed that message and plan now for climate justice. That means safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change mitigation equitably. It means Scotland delivering its fair share, on a global scale, and applying those principles to protect people here in Scotland, too, including future generations. That is the Scottish Labour way, which I and others will expand on.
As the cabinet secretary said, the climate change negotiations—or COP24—that were held in Poland had a strong focus on a just transition. It is fantastic to see the mainstreaming of the term and to see the 54 world-leader signatories to the Silesia declaration, including the UK signatory and our First Minister. It is such human-rights based thinking that led to Scottish Labour’s target for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest, and an interim target of a 77 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, in order to drive action with urgency. However, a statutory and long-term just transition commission is a vital companion to that ambition.
In that context, it is with relief that I hear today that the Scottish Government will support our amendment. I am eager to discuss with the relevant cabinet secretaries how the proposal might be considered. I feel so strongly about Scottish Labour’s position on the commission because, across the planet, there are too many tragic examples of communities and local people, both now and in the past, being deeply affected and left behind by fundamental change, both good and bad. Too many have lost out and been excluded. As an ex-community councillor in the Douglas valley, I witnessed the effects of the failure of Government to robustly intervene and support communities after the rapid closure of our deep mines. Such effects on communities have been callous, long lasting and unacceptable. We have a collective responsibility to plan strategically.
The updated membership of the commission is welcome, as Scottish Labour is absolutely clear that a commission without trade unions or those with current industry experience would be a sham. I recognise that the Government does not want to create an inexhaustible list of members, but I note a lack of direct representation for the transport, education and planning sectors. Having said that, I wonder whether the cabinet secretary highlighted today that there might be transport representation. Do the cabinet secretaries feel confident that the membership reflects all the key areas of concern?
The just transition commission must be statutory and long term. That will ensure that, whatever Government we have in Scotland until we reach net zero, fairness and climate justice—here at home, too—will be at the core of our decision making. There is Scottish Government precedent for that in the Scottish Land Commission, as land reform is an equally long-term shift.
To aid formulation of the just transition commission’s recommendations, we are also keen that it should be properly funded, with a well-resourced secretariat. It is really important that the commission is independent of Government and is accountable to our Parliament, which will aid the confidence and respect of all for its deliberations.
There is time for interventions, Ms Beamish. I call Stewart Stevenson.
Given that Claudia Beamish advocates a parliamentary line of responsibility, does she expect the appropriate member of the corporate body to be the person who would come to stand at the front to answer questions from members about the operation of the body? If it were a Government body, we would hold a minister to account.
I understand Stewart Stevenson’s point, about which there is a debate to be had. It is important that the commission is independent of Government—there is precedence for that—and goes beyond each Government. The whole Parliament should take responsibility for it. As for who would stand at the dispatch box, I cannot answer that at the moment.
On issues beyond the commission, the just transition partnership is a fundamental part of the way forward. I pay respect to the grouping and its collective positive work. The partnership is significant, not least because it has enabled unions and NGOs to work together and develop supportive strategies and engagement with politicians and others as just transition has evolved. Labour identifies strongly with its briefing.
We will not support the Green amendment, although we agree with Mark Ruskell on promoting renewable energy and building into Government policy the principles of a just transition. We look to the just transition commission to engage with all existing industries, including the energy industries, on what part they will play in the just transition.
All sectors are increasingly playing their part in the process. Of course, the heavy emitters will need the most support as we progress. The farming industry needs attention, and if the food and farming sector is to do the job that we want it to do, we should look to the 2030 sustainable development goals—the Government has to pick up the pace of change. The commission must also consider transport and our domestic and commercial buildings. My colleague Lewis Macdonald will talk further about the energy sector.
Skills are the best insurance for Scotland’s future, and providing support for education, skills and training is vital to maximise the opportunity to change the labour market. That is a central tenet of Scottish Labour’s industrial strategy. Such forward-looking planning with industry will avoid all-too-persistent skills shortages at many levels of industry.
There is clearly an obligation for businesses to engage positively with the process and a need for guidance and support from Government and from the enterprise agencies. Some form of obligation on businesses that are heavy emitters to actively contribute to the transition should be discussed further, and there is a need to support businesses of all scales that are developing new technology. There are two such businesses in my region: Sunamp, which manufactures heat storage systems; and MacRebur, which creates road surfaces with plastic input. We will support the Conservative amendment on the circular economy.
With appropriate financing, the shift to a net zero economy could be transformative. Scottish Labour’s industrial strategy sets a focus on developing the economy of Scotland
“by increasing its diversity with a focus on creating sustainable high quality employment, ensuring that the new jobs are environmentally friendly and broadening our export base.”
UK Labour’s industrial strategy follows suit, with the national transformation fund committing £250 billion over 10 years to be shared across all parts of the UK.
Setting the right investment criteria for the Scottish national investment bank is an opportunity to power innovation and accelerate the just transformation. A shift to reinvesting pension funds in local initiatives and sustainable industries is an opportunity to protect the funds that people will rely on after retirement while moving justly towards a fair, renewable future.
We must never forget that there are multiple benefits to getting the necessary shift right. I highlight three: cleaner lungs and better hearts as we move to less air pollution through the use of electric vehicles and more active travel; better mental and physical health as we move to more safe walking and cycling opportunities; and improved physical health through tackling fuel poverty and creating warmer homes, which is a UN right. However, none of that can happen in a fair way without a robust just transition process. Labour is fully committed to working with all who will work us and, of course, with the Scottish Government and others who have a similar vision for how Scotland can achieve that.
I move amendment S5M-15380.3, to insert at end:
“, and further supports the just transition process through giving further consideration to the establishment of a statutory, long-term just transition commission, which should be well-funded, independent of government and accountable to the Parliament, building on the work of the present non-statutory commission.”
How we respond to the climate emergency while guaranteeing the economic security and wellbeing of everyone in our society is surely the most pressing issue of our age. We cannot afford to condemn whole communities to the kind of crippling intergenerational poverty delivered by the collapse of the coal-mining industry in the 1980s—a tragedy that we still live with today through the legacy in those communities. We have to put in place a just transition that leaves no one behind, and we must take the kind of strong human-rights based approach that Claudia Beamish spoke about.
That is why the Scottish Greens support the Scottish Government’s just transition commission, although we will work to ensure that the principles set out by the International Labour Organization are embedded in Scotland. That includes building a strong social consensus on both the goals and pathways of a just transition, getting the dialogue going within and between all levels of policy making, and taking action on the ground. However, the most important principle is that the transition creates decent jobs and provides protections against job losses as well as training and skills.
The work that the just transition commission will undertake is important and long term. It is inconceivable that it will be in place for just two years. That is why we will lend our support to the Labour amendment, which seeks to put the commission on a more solid, statutory footing.
The Green Party amendment deals with the principles of a just transmission and calls for them to be applied across all infrastructure planning, projects and policy. Stepping up investment in Scotland’s infrastructure, including low-carbon energy, transport and housing, while reducing or even eliminating investment in high-carbon infrastructure, is key.
We welcome the Scottish Government’s plans to establish a Scottish national investment bank and particularly welcome the reassurance that the bank would seize the economic opportunities of tackling climate change. We believe that the bank must adopt a mission-oriented outlook from the start. That approach has been defined by the economist, Professor Mariana Mazzucato, who is also a Scottish Government adviser. She said that, in a mission-oriented approach, the Government sets a broad direction for the just transition economy, introducing the top-down legislative measures that are required, while policymakers, stakeholders and businesses at the local level design bottom-up solutions to deliver the changes. Mazzucato argues that it was that kind of thinking that allowed the United States to put a man on the moon. The same big-picture thinking is needed to make the just transition a success.
The Green Party amendment addresses the context in which the just transition would have to happen. Our global dependence on fossil fuels is driving the climate to breaking point. All the Governments across the world now need to face up to tackling an emergency. We will not achieve that if we focus only on the opportunities presented by low-carbon technologies. We must also build independence from fossil fuels and act to ensure that at least some are left in the ground and out of the atmosphere.
Both the Scottish and UK Governments favour a policy of maximum economic recovery of oil and gas reserves, but at what cost? The science suggests that we must leave the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. A 2015 report in the journal
Nature advised that one third of the world’s oil reserves and half of its natural gas reserves must be off limits if we are to have any hope of meeting the temperature targets set out in the Paris agreement.
Climate leadership is springing up around the world. In April 2018, the Government of New Zealand announced that it would grant no new offshore oil exploration permits. The New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, stated that that was part of her Government’s plan to transition to a carbon-neutral future. That is a plan that looks 30 years in advance. She said that it would bypass the risk of acting too late and causing abrupt shocks to communities. That is good planning. Will we have such climate leadership from the Scottish Government on that front, too? In the same week that the First Minister attended the climate talks in Bonn, her party’s members at Westminster voted for £24 billion-worth of tax relief for that industry over the next 40 years—yes, £24 billion is the right figure. That tax-break money would be better directed at renewables and decommissioning.
The Green report on jobs and the new economy highlighted some of the opportunities that might come as a result of taking that approach. Our research suggests that more than 100,000 new roles could be created in offshore wind, more than 20,000 in decommissioning and around 19,000 in building retrofitting. New jobs would also be created in training and education to support those roles and ensure that workers had the skills needed for the new economy. Those are high-quality, skilled jobs and, unlike those that rely on non-renewable resources, they are secure.
Ultimately, we need to take heed of the demands of the Paris agreement and the recent warnings from the IPCC. We have 12 years to drastically cut emissions and avoid the most devastating consequences of global warming. Our actions during the next decade will determine the impact of climate change here in Scotland and overseas. Setting stretching targets now could drive the innovation that is needed to spark the just transition and mitigate the most damaging effects of climate change.
We want increased ambition in our 2030 targets to hasten that drive to net zero. The purpose of targets is to send the strongest message to drive innovation, especially when future paths are unclear. The mission-orientated policy approach advocated by Professor Mazzucato can help to solve some of the most intractable challenges of our times, but that needs bold Government leadership.
The earlier the transition begins, the better our chance of achieving a fair and just approach to tackling the climate emergency—an approach that can deliver prosperity and wellbeing and the reindustrialisation of communities that were cast aside decades ago. It can mean a rebirth, not an ending, and a viable future for our world.
I move amendment S5M-15380.1, to insert at end:
“; recognises that global fossil fuel reserves far exceed the amount that can safely be used without causing catastrophic climate change; agrees therefore that the policy of maximum economic recovery of oil and gas, as advocated by both Scottish and UK governments, is incompatible with the Paris Agreement or with the goal of a just transition; supports an accelerated roll-out of renewable energy and decommissioning projects, creating secure and high-quality employment opportunities, and calls for the principles of a just transition to be embedded across all government infrastructure policy, planning and projects, including the national investment bank and publicly-owned energy company.”