Green Recovery Inquiry

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th February 2021.

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Photo of Alex Rowley Alex Rowley Labour

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Inaudible

.]—Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee debate today on its green recovery inquiry. I pass on my gratitude to committee members, for their work in producing the report; to all those who provided oral and written evidence; and, as always, to the clerks, who put in such hard work.

As my colleagues have said, we welcome the inquiry, and the Labour Party supports its recommendations. Now more than ever, the aim to build a more resilient, just and healthy society and environment should be supported and put at the forefront of any Government’s strategy for how we build back from the pandemic.

I will touch on the recommendations in the report, which call on the Scottish Government to

“prioritise the delivery of skills development for a green recovery in communities that lack capacity and resources, establish a development fund to facilitate this and support the mobilisation of communities with further and sustained investment.”

I have repeatedly made the case to the Scottish Government in the chamber that, if we are to focus on establishing a greener economy, we must absolutely prioritise the development of skills and jobs. We have seen a multitude of Government failures in that regard. The Government is not keeping its promises on green jobs, we are seeing work shipped overseas and it is failing to establish a green jobs economy on the scale that we have the potential for. However, in moving past those failures, there is no excuse for allowing the post-Covid recovery not to focus on those areas.

We all know that Scotland has massive potential for successful green recovery, but that recovery will need leadership, thorough planning and financial commitments from the Scottish Government. The crisis has put the inequalities in our country at the forefront, and those inequalities will become only more severe during this year. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that recovery will be difficult, but we must focus our attention on delivering a recovery that tackles the inequalities and poverty that leave so many people and communities behind.

In the report, the committee recommends that

“a green recovery route-map is needed to signpost the way” through the challenges ahead. I agree with that approach and that

“clear timelines, clear responsibilities for delivery across all parts of the public sector and clear delivery plans for each sector” will help to steer the direction of the recovery and ensure that there will be transparency in the Government’s strategy. That will be essential when legitimate criticism or concerns are rightly made to ensure that we work together to make the recovery work.

The recovery will need input from across civic Scotland, from the Government, from Opposition parties, from those with public and private sector expertise, and from the communities that are, or that will be, impacted. By taking a collaborative approach, we can pool our resources to ensure that the recovery is the most effective one that we can deliver.

Friends of the Earth has called for a scaling up of energy efficiency programmes, which is desperately needed, given the fuel poverty that we have in Scotland. It also calls for an expansion of bus travel with green buses, which we could build in Scotland. The Government can begin to put all of that into place now. I believe that there is also a need for a national housing plan that, once and for all, will tackle Scotland’s housing crisis, creating apprenticeships and tens of thousands of jobs.

It cannot be jobs against the environment; it must be jobs, jobs and jobs leading the way in addressing the environmental challenge that we face. We must move from the rhetoric of transition to the creation of new jobs across the country, otherwise we will fail to meet that challenge.