Green Jobs Fund

– in the Scottish Parliament on 1st June 2022.

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Photo of Miles Briggs Miles Briggs Conservative

8. To ask the Scottish Government how many green jobs have been supported since the introduction of the green jobs fund. (S6O-01165)

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

The green jobs fund is a five-year, £100 million capital fund that will support businesses and their supply chains to better transition to a low-carbon economy. The support that will be provided by the fund aims to create green employment through investment in equipment, premises, research and development. Between the enterprise agencies and Scottish ministers, 57 projects have been supported, with grant funding of £16.8 million through the green jobs fund. Figures that have been provided by the recipients of those awards estimate that that fund will support up to 3,886 jobs over the life of those individual projects.

Photo of Miles Briggs Miles Briggs Conservative

The Scottish Government had pledged that there would be 130,000 green jobs by 2020, but the Office for National Statistics estimates that employment in the low-carbon and renewable energy sector dropped from 21,700 to 20,500 in 2020. That is the fourth consecutive year in which we have seen a reduction in green jobs. What plans do ministers have, alongside industry, to bring forward a new and updated strategy, to make sure that we can realise the potential that green jobs have in the renewable energy and the carbon neutral retrofitting sectors?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

Scotland is making significant progress in creating green jobs. Indeed, the most recent PricewaterhouseCoopers green jobs barometer shows that Scotland is the best-performing part of the United Kingdom for green jobs created and that Scotland is well positioned to maximise the benefits of green investment. The member referred to the ONS definition of green jobs, which the organisation is looking at, because it accepts that that definition is far from ideal. It provides a very narrow definition of green jobs.

I am convinced that many green jobs are being created throughout Scotland at the moment. Indeed, the Scottish Government’s hydrogen policy statement says that that policy could create up to 300,000 green jobs in Scotland.

The Acorn project, which the UK Government is not supporting, could have created 20,600 jobs if the UK Government had given it the go-ahead, as it should have done. Our heat in buildings strategy could potentially create 16,400 green jobs, and we hope that the renewables projects in “The onshore wind industry prospectus” could create 17,000 jobs.

Scotland is on course to create hundreds of thousands of green jobs in the coming years, if we put our plans into practice and support them, and if, where appropriate, those projects have UK Government support. I ask Miles Briggs to ask his UK colleagues to get behind the Acorn project and others and to reverse the decision about its support of the Acorn project, in order to create even more green jobs for Scotland.

Photo of Audrey Nicoll Audrey Nicoll Scottish National Party

Creating and supporting green jobs through initiatives such as the green jobs fund and the just transition fund for the north-east and Moray will play an important part in securing our transition to net zero. However, the Scottish Government’s ambitions do not seem to be matched by the UK Government’s. Does the minister agree that it is high time that the UK Government stepped up and committed to properly supporting a just transition, matching the Scottish Government’s £500 million just transition fund?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

I thank the member for that question, which gives me the opportunity to remind the chamber that the first tranche of the just transition fund for Moray and north-east Scotland—which amounts to £500 million over the next 10 years—opened for expressions of interest on Tuesday of this week. We would be very grateful if all members in relevant parts of the country would advertise that and make people aware of it, as it will help our transition toward a net zero economy.

Audrey Nicoll is right in saying that the UK Government should play a much bigger role in this. After all, it has extracted hundreds of billions of pounds from the North Sea in oil revenue. If it were to match the £500 million commitment from the Scottish Government, that would go a long way to ensuring that we have a just transition in the north-east of Scotland and Moray in the years ahead.

I gave the example of the Acorn project, which would have created thousands of new jobs from next year onwards. It was the project that was best positioned to get the go-ahead in the UK, but the Conservative UK Government said no to it, which caused a lot of anger in the industrial community in Scotland.

As Audrey Nicoll said, the UK Government could do a lot more to match the Scottish Government’s ambition for a just transition.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

That concludes questions on finance. There will be a brief pause while the front benches change.