Green Recovery Inquiry

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

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Photo of Maurice Golden Maurice Golden Conservative

I refer members to my entry in the register of interests.

I welcome the committee’s report and thank the committee’s members, clerks and witnesses for their efforts in producing it.

Although there might be disagreement over how we can achieve a green recovery, it has been encouraging to hear in the debate that members are united in their support for that principle. Gillian Martin spoke about being bold and increasing our commitment to climate change. I agree with that whole-heartedly. Ben Macpherson spoke about having a whole-Government approach, which is a strategy that we must fulfil.

Having a green recovery is not just about meeting our net zero goals, important though those are; it is about making Scotland more resilient to future shocks. That work must start in our local communities. I am pleased to see that the committee’s report made a number of recommendations on that front, covering local decision making, procurement and skills, and childcare. Those are key components for creating a circular economy, retaining local wealth creation and generating green jobs.

Equally important to a green recovery is the recommendation to lock in low-carbon behaviours and retain the socioeconomic benefits of natural capital. Both are beneficial at community level for climate change action and individual wellbeing, but they are also vital at national level for reaching net zero and protecting jobs. That is because Scotland’s vast natural capital, which is worth an estimated £23 billion to our economy, is vital for key industries such as agriculture, food and drink, and tourism and hospitality, so protecting our natural capital will protect the thousands of jobs that those industries support.

Jamie Halcro Johnston highlighted the important role that agriculture will play. I support the creation of a protein plan to work with farmers to achieve our climate change targets. I welcome the Scottish Government’s ambitious targets for doing so. However, unfortunately, they are not being met, as my colleague Liz Smith mentioned earlier.