Meeting date: Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 07 December 2021
Agenda: Time for Reflection, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Maternity Services (Moray), Just Transition, Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill, Business Motion, Decision Time, Gender-based Violence
- Time for Reflection
- Business Motion
- Topical Question Time
- Maternity Services (Moray)
- Just Transition
- Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill
- Business Motion
- Decision Time
- Gender-based Violence
?I remind members of? the ?Covid-?related measures that are in place?and that face coverings should be worn when moving around?the chamber and across the Holyrood?campus.
The next item of business is a debate on motion S6M-02429, in the name of Richard Lochhead, on delivering a just transition to net zero and climate resilience for Scotland.15:53
Scotland’s journey to net zero in 2045, which is when we aim to end our contribution to global warming, will transform how we live and work, our economy and our society. Climate change is rightly viewed as a threat to Scotland and the world, but how we respond is important, as it can also be a window of opportunity for a better country and improved quality of life for our people.
We also have to face up to the concerns that many people, businesses and communities will be feeling at the current time. We need to reassure our people that they will benefit from good green jobs and that no one will be left behind or expected to carry a disproportionate burden in terms of who pays for net zero. That is why a just transition is so important.
All of us have a duty to debate these matters seriously in the times ahead and to work constructively together where possible. A just transition matters to the entire country and its full range of jobs and people, from energy to farming, retail, construction and so on. There can be a tendency to focus on specific challenges for individual sectors and regions, but we will deliver a just transition only if it is a truly national endeavour.
At the 26th United Nations climate change conference of the parties—COP26—in Glasgow, I heard delegates from all over the world showing great interest in the approach that we have taken in Scotland whereby we are planning to manage the transition to net zero in an orderly manner and in line with the recommendation of our just transition commission.
It is not about simple and easy on-off switches for any particular sector or industry. The emphasis must be on the need to transition over the coming decades, and I recognise the need to ramp up delivery if we are to meet our ambitions. That is very much the message that I took from the Climate Change Committee’s progress report that was published today. As well as challenges, the committee notes that there have been
“significant advancements in Scottish climate policy ambition”
over the past year, as well as in our focus and leadership on a just transition.
Does Richard Lochhead accept that, in this morning’s report, the CCC asked the Government to be more transparent about how policies will deliver the targets that the Government has set?
We have been and will continue to be transparent, and we will, of course, listen to the recommendations in the report and respond in due course.
A cornerstone of a just transition is creating good green jobs and new industries. In the next decade, the jobs that are available and the skills that are required will begin to look very different, which is one reason why we have committed to developing a skills guarantee for workers in carbon-intensive sectors.
There is an opportunity to improve the quality of the jobs that are available to people. I will give one example of how that all aligns. We have committed to investing £1.8 billion in heat and energy efficiency over the course of this parliamentary session, and, through that investment, we will seek to apply fair work conditions, ensuring that the new green jobs that are created as a result are good for both people and the planet.
The transition clearly impacts on livelihoods, but it also impacts on communities. In Scotland, we know all too well the legacy of poorly managed industrial transitions, and many people have drawn parallels with the future of the north-east, which is home to our oil and gas industry. This Government will not stand by and allow the mistakes of the past to be repeated. Communities across the country will see a fair transition to net zero. Anyone who thinks that we can switch off our use of fossil fuels overnight, for instance, does not live in the real world. Likewise, anyone who thinks that change is too difficult and that we should continue with business as usual does not live in the real world—the real world that is endangered by global warming.
There is, understandably, much focus on Scotland’s offshore sector, as the industry has an essential role to play in our transition to net zero. Its pioneering spirit, innovation, investment and experience are all essential for the transition to renewables, and we must harness those. Most of all, the people who work in the industry are pivotal and must have a voice. We must harness their skills, listen to them, use their knowledge and work with them to drive our net zero transition forward. That is another reason why we have committed to a 10-year, £500 million just transition fund for the north-east and Moray, and it is why our first just transition plan will have an energy focus.
Will Richard Lochhead give way?
Will Richard Lochhead take an intervention?
I thought that that might attract some interventions. If time is added on, I will take an intervention.
Minister, which member are you taking an intervention from?
I apologise—I will take Tess White’s intervention.
Will the minister welcome the United Kingdom Government’s investment in tidal energy?
I welcome any investments in our renewables opportunities. Tess White will be aware that there was massive disappointment that it was not a much greater investment, which we require to move forward at a faster pace. I hope that she will take that message to the UK Government.
The UK Government has to play its role here, too. It can start not only by addressing the tidal energy issue but by reversing the illogical decision that it has taken to overlook the Scottish carbon capture utilisation and storage cluster for track 1 status. Awarding it that status would have supported more than 15,000 green jobs from next year, using the skills of our oil and gas sector, as is demonstrated in a report by Scottish Enterprise that has been released today.
Will Richard Lochhead take an intervention?
I will add on a bit of time for the intervention.
I will take it.
Is the minister aware that the selection of carbon capture cluster projects was made on objective criterion? He does not appear to be.
What I am aware of is that Sir Ian Wood and others said that it is environmentally and economically the wrong decision and that it is like leaving the best player on the subs bench when playing a football match. The whole of the north-east is united against the decision that the UK Government took, and it is united in calling on the UK Government to reverse the decision so that we can get on with creating those green jobs and moving towards our net zero target.
Our net zero ambitions will generate a green jobs bonanza. In fact, that is already happening at pace. Just last week, PricewaterhouseCoopers released a report that placed Scotland as the top performer in the UK in creating green jobs. From climate-savvy gin production in St Boswells to sustainable food packaging made from seaweed in Oban, our economy is changing. Scotland-based firm SSE alone is proposing private investment of more than £12 billion over the next five years to accelerate our net zero journey and create thousands of green jobs across the nation.
I am sure that we will want to welcome last week’s news that the Port of Nigg wind tower factory will be built. It is expected that more than 400 jobs will be created at the site. That is another example of how our existing capabilities can be directed towards the transition to net zero.
I can confirm today that our public investment through the green jobs fund has led to £12.3 million being awarded so far this year. The investment is expected to create and safeguard more than 850 green jobs. As numerous recent reports have highlighted, we have the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new green jobs in hydrogen technologies and offshore wind, and through the decarbonisation of heating in our buildings.
We are on the cusp of a truly astonishing green jobs revolution in every corner of Scotland. I can announce that, in the new year, we will publish our work towards a Scottish definition of green jobs, which will help to guide our activity.
I will finish by providing a quick update on the new just transition commission. The remit of the new commission was announced earlier in the year. The commission is asked to provide advice on and scrutiny of the Government’s approach to co-designing just transition plans for sectors and regions. I have already confirmed that Professor Jim Skea will continue in his role as chair. We have approached people to be members of the new commission, and I will announce the full membership next week. I can confirm that we will take a dual approach to the commission’s membership, with some members being appointed for the full parliamentary session and others being appointed on a fixed-term basis in order to bring their expertise to a particular plan.
You must bring your remarks to a close, minister.
We must ensure that, whenever possible, our climate actions support our broader economic and social objectives. That is what the just transition is all about. It is about avoiding past mistakes and ensuring that we plan the way forward in an orderly fashion to deliver a net zero Scotland.
That the Parliament recognises the importance of delivering a worker and citizen-led just transition for Scotland; acknowledges the need to plan for an orderly transition to net zero by 2045, and the need for public and private investment so as to deliver a transition away from a high-carbon economy to net zero and climate resilience in a way that creates good green jobs and business opportunities across the country, and builds a fairer, greener future for all; welcomes the Scottish Government’s response to the Just Transition Commission’s report and commends the Commission’s work; approves of the commitment to a new Commission, and notes that Scotland is the first country in the world to commit to a Just Transition Planning Framework.16:02
The Scottish Conservatives believe in a fair and well-managed transition to net zero. That is critical to safeguarding jobs in the energy sector, to protecting the UK’s energy security and to a green recovery.
Decarbonising our economy does not mean shutting down the oil and gas industry as soon as possible. We cannot simply turn off the taps, and we cannot ignore demand, which is set to continue until at least 2050. Instead, decarbonising our economy requires careful planning and collaboration between Governments, businesses, workers, investors and civil society. The just transition commission, which reported in March this year, has helped to focus minds in that regard.
However, as the Scottish Conservative amendment emphasises, talk of a just transition must lead to “meaningful action”. This morning, Professor Jim Skea, the commission’s chair, said that
“the big message is that we really need to get on with it.”
The Climate Change Committee’s latest report on Scotland’s climate change plan is clear. It says:
“Most of the key policy levers are now in the hands of the Scottish Government, but promises have not yet turned into action. In this new Parliament, consultations and strategies must turn decisively to implementation.”
The UK Government’s landmark North Sea transition deal, which was developed in partnership with the industry body Oil & Gas UK, is the first of its kind by any G7 country. It contains more than 50 actions to meet the UK’s climate targets by harnessing the expertise of the North Sea sector. It is not about managing the industry’s decline; instead, it is about managing its diversification to greener and more sustainable energy sources, so that it can thrive for decades to come.
Many businesses in the energy sector are already diversifying beyond oil and gas, but they are experiencing difficulties in recruiting the right technical skills. That is why implementing the people and skills plan in the North Sea transition deal is so important. We know that workers in the sector have skills and knowledge that will transition well to renewables—research from Robert Gordon University shows that that applies to more than 90 per cent of the UK’s oil and gas workforce. The loss of their expertise would be a massive blow to our net zero ambitions.
I am an MSP for the north-east, and those families and communities who are supported by the oil and gas sector are at the forefront of my mind today. Yesterday, I met representatives from Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce. They were optimistic about the region’s resilience and recovery, but they emphasised that there is still a long way to go. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, the north-east had to contend with the oil price collapse and a significant downturn in the industry. Analysis from the Fraser of Allander Institute suggests that, while other areas of Scotland “have recovered pretty well”, the north-east is lagging behind every other region.
Against that background, energy sector workers have listened to language about oil and gas from the SNP-Green coalition Government with alarm.
Does Tess White agree that standing up for 100,000 jobs in the north-east and for energy security is not, as a Scottish Government minister has said, taking a far-right position?
I agree with Graham Simpson. Patrick Harvie is not here today, but for a Scottish Government minister with a ministerial car and a salary to match to suggest that only those on the “hard right” support oil and gas extraction is, to be frank, insulting to the workers in the sector. He should try telling that to the engineer who bought a house for his family in Ellon only to be laid off. He cannot now afford to pay his mortgage. For Patrick Harvie to gloat about an exploration project hitting “the skids” when it could have created 1,000 jobs was disgraceful, but it is typical of the short-sightedness of the Scottish Greens. They would prefer us to import oil from abroad, which has a much higher carbon footprint, than to meet demand domestically.
It is dangerous to demonise an industry, particularly when the financial and emotional wellbeing of workers is at risk, as it is in my region. For people to live with the constant threat and worry of not having a job next month or next year is exhausting. The oil and gas industry is not a villain and, as SNP MP Stephen Flynn said last week, it should not be denigrated. Sir Ian Wood has warned that politicians risk creating “an adverse investment environment” for the sector. There is nothing just or fair about that.
Will the member take an intervention?
I am in my final few paragraphs.
Let us not forget that it is the energy companies that are investing their money, time and technical expertise in renewable energy sources.
We all agree that we must work towards a more sustainable future, but our priority must be to secure a fair and managed transition to net zero for those people who rely on the energy sector for their livelihoods.
At decision time today, the Scottish Conservatives will support the SNP motion. We are sympathetic to the Labour amendment, but, if it was agreed to, it would remove our call for meaningful action. Given the findings in the Climate Change Committee’s report today, we feel that it is important to press that point. As such, we will not support the Labour amendment.
I move amendment S6M-02429.1, to insert at end:
“welcomes the UK Government’s North Sea Transition Deal, which will help to facilitate the reskilling of existing parts of the oil and gas workforce, and contains a commitment to joint investment with the energy sector of up to £16 billion by 2030 to reduce carbon emissions, and believes that discussions around a ‘just transition’ must lead to meaningful action to safeguard the jobs of tens of thousands of energy sector workers across Scotland, and particularly in the north east.”16:08
We know that the clock is ticking if we are to prevent the climate emergency from becoming a climate catastrophe. We also know that COP26 barely kept 1.5° alive, and if Governments do not turn their warm words in the agreement into practical actions on the ground, it will be the death knell for an ambition that is already disastrous for many islands.
Here in Scotland, we may have challenging targets, but we still do not have a clear plan that comes close to delivering net zero by 2045 or—this is arguably more challenging—a 75 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030. Scotland continues to consistently miss our emission reduction targets despite significant de-industrialisation in recent years, and the longer we take to put in place a proper plan to meet those targets, the less likely it is that any transition will be a just one.
Labour therefore welcomes the commitment to a longer-term just transition commission, although we believe that it should have statutory backing. We commend the work of the previous commission, but the Government’s response to its recommendations was too timid. It has become the norm that the rhetoric is not matched by the reality. There is still no plan to prevent the weight of climate change from landing on the shoulders of the poor.
Transport remains the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, being responsible for more than a third of those, with levels barely below those of 1990, yet the Green-SNP coalition is hiking up rail fares in a few weeks and axing 300 trains a day from May—that is 100,000 a year, in comparison with pre-pandemic levels. In addition, the Government has still not given councils the powers that I secured in the Transport (Scotland) Bill to run their own local bus services, at a time when our bus network is being dismantled, route by route, and fares rise and rise again—they have risen by 50 per cent under this Government. That is not a just transition.
On agriculture, it is five years since the Brexit vote and there are just three years until the end of the transition period for a sector that, by definition, needs time to plan. Its emissions are still flatlining, yet there are no details from the Government on how future farm and rural payments will deliver any managed transition, never mind a just one.
On heating and buildings, the minister referred to an investment of £1.8 billion, but we know that the bill is £33 billion—£5 billion alone for councils to refit council homes; it is not clear that the cost of that will not land on the backs of rent payers.
When it comes to jobs, we all remember Alex Salmond promising that Scotland would be the “Saudi Arabia of renewables”. However, a decade on from the SNP pledge of 130,000 green jobs by 2020, the number of those who are directly employed in the low-carbon and renewables economy is just 21,400—the lowest it has been since 2014.
Does the member agree that the Scottish Labour position on Cambo has jeopardised a thousand jobs in the energy sector?
The reality is that people in the energy sector are already losing their jobs and are getting very little support from the UK Government, at a time when oil prices are falling, particularly given that there are no proposals or plans from the UK Government to support those workers in a just transition.
It is little wonder that, when it comes to Governments, whether UK or Scottish, delivering a just transition, there is scepticism, even from members of the Scottish Government’s own just transition commission. As Richard Hardy, the Scottish secretary of the Prospect union, said, the Government’s response to the commission’s recommendations
“lacks any clear strategy for creating new high quality jobs ... This is very disappointing, unions argued long and hard in the Commission for a more interventionist approach on this key issue.”
That is exactly what we need. If the transition to a low-carbon economy is left largely to market forces, as the Conservatives want, we will repeat the devastating social and economic impact that was experienced by our communities when the coal mines closed. That will need more than a Government motion that pats itself on the back for a framework that has not even yet been published.
It will need a relentless focus on how a climate recovery will support those who are unemployed as a result of the current economic crisis and the transition that we face. It will need a bold industrial strategy that lays out how domestic manufacturing capacity must evolve to ensure that the growth in domestic renewable energy production translates into new jobs in Scotland.
It will need a jobs-first transition, which is why Labour has established our own energy transition commission, which is focused on how we can protect jobs and deliver energy security, as we move to net zero. It will also need a partnership approach with those workers who are most affected—in particular, oil and gas workers. They are not the hard right. They are not criminals who deserve to be punished. They are ordinary workers, who work in what are often the most trying conditions to meet Scotland’s energy needs, with invaluable skills, and they will continue to do so in the energy sector of the future. To meet them and their employers is not something for Government ministers to slag off; it would show respect for the fact that workers understand their industry and that they have the right to plan and shape their futures.
I will therefore be happy to move an amendment in my name that makes it absolutely clear that a transition can be?just?only when workers have a say in the futures of their livelihoods, communities and climate. It is time for a transition to a modern low-carbon economy, but it must be a just one that genuinely puts at its heart the protection of workers’ livelihoods.
I move amendment S6M-02429.2, to leave out from “the Scottish Government’s” to end, and insert:
“the recommendations in the Just Transition Commission’s report and commends the Commission’s work; approves of the commitment to a new Commission, and believes that the new Just Transition Commission should be given a statutory footing; considers that Scotland has huge potential to lead the way in the renewable energy sector, but regrets that, to date, the Scottish Government has failed to translate this into the growth of skilled green jobs; believes that the Scottish Government must significantly step up its efforts to support the retention and creation of energy jobs in Scotland, and calls on the Scottish Government to set out a clear industrial plan, in consultation with trade unions and workers, particularly from the oil and gas sector, to secure a just transition for workers across Scotland.16:14
The purpose of this short debate is perhaps a little hard to discern. However, if it provides a chance for the Parliament to restate our collective commitment to a just transition that puts workers and citizens first and ensures a resilient economy that is built on green jobs, it may yet be an hour well spent.
Yet the motion is rather self-congratulatory. Of course, ministers like to talk of the Parliament having passed world-leading climate legislation, and I am certainly proud of the role that my party played in pushing the Government to be more ambitious on the interim targets for 2030. The truth, though, is that target setting is easy. Developing detailed plans and committing necessary resources—in short, delivery—is the hard, but crucial, part.
As today’s report by the Climate Change Committee shows once again, the Scottish Government’s plans are heavy on promises but light on action. The committee criticises what it sees as a lack of detail in ministers’ plans for how Scotland’s targets are to be achieved if we are to make it to net zero by 2045. That is against the backdrop of Scotland having already missed its emissions targets again and again over recent years. In some areas, such as heat, we are going backwards.
As for the green jobs revolution that we have been promised for almost 15 years, dating back to Alex Salmond’s time as First Minister, it is a talk that has never been properly walked. Given the lack of progress made in key areas over recent years, the urgency of the climate emergency, and the importance of securing a meaningful just transition, the Government cannot continue as it has been doing, which is making bold pronouncements and then finding someone else to blame when things are not delivered.
Key to a just transition is the creation of new green jobs. As Colin Smyth rightly emphasised, we cannot afford—nor would it be right—to leave people and communities behind. However, achieving that will require plans that are both radical and credible. That is why Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see home insulation declared a national strategic priority, with a target set to have all areas of the country covered by 2030. That must be matched by budgets to meet the ambition, including a doubling of fuel poverty funding and incentives for householders to take early action. An initial five-year programme could see improvements made to 80,000 homes per year and an aim to switch 1 million homes from polluting mains gas to heat pumps by 2030. All in all, that has the potential to create an estimated 34,000 new jobs in energy efficiency.
We also want to see the expertise of those in the oil and gas sector put to good use in a just transition. The sector’s technical and engineering expertise will be vital in delivering our plans for warmer homes, new heat networks and hydrogen power. We support the development of a centre of excellence for carbon capture and efficient energy generation. We would involve the construction and renewables industries, along with utility companies, in partnership with colleges, universities and planners to ensure that every opportunity is taken to create an economy that is fit for the future.
The potential of such partnerships can already be seen in my Orkney constituency, where proposals have been put forward to redevelop Flotta terminal into one of the world’s first large-scale green hydrogen hubs. I had the pleasure of meeting some of those who are involved in the project yesterday. The potential is certainly exciting in a local, national and international context, further enhancing Orkney’s reputation as being at the forefront of renewable energy innovation.
Scotland’s targets for net zero are bold, ambitious and the right thing to do. However, we need the Government to pick up the pace and start walking its world-leading talk if we are to have any chance of making those ambitions a reality.
We move to the open debate. I advise members that we have no time in hand and that any interventions must therefore be absorbed in their speaking time.16:18
In 1904, the Oakbank Oil Company built the Niddry Castle oil works at Winchburgh in my constituency. The irony is that, long before the electrification of the nearby Edinburgh to Glasgow railway line, the works were connected to the shale mines in the area by an electric narrow-gauge tramway. For several decades in the 19th century, Scotland was the leading oil producer in the world.
West Lothian has many former coal mining communities: strong towns and villages and people, but brutalised by the unjust transition of the abrupt and political end of coal mining. The consequences of generational mass unemployment can run deep and long and, despite the resilience and capability of the county, the impact can still be felt. It is therefore not the first time that our workers and communities have faced industrial transition. Yes, the British Leyland car plant in Bathgate got replaced by inward investment with a Motorola plant and 3,000 houses and, yes, Whitburn Polkemmet’s smoking bing is now the Heartlands estate. However, not everyone was helped, and people were not always helped with skilled work and good wages.
As the just transition commission report states,
“This transition needs to be a national mission with social justice at its heart: something achieved BY the people of Scotland, not done TO the people of Scotland”.
We need a just transition with skills and training that help to secure good high-value jobs in green industries, job security for people in the industries that will play the biggest part in the transition and costs that do not burden those who are least able to pay. However, there cannot be a detailed just transition if there are not detailed climate change plans, and the criticism in the UK Climate Change Committee’s progress report must be addressed by ministers.
Government cannot and will not do this by itself—it needs industry, investors, energy companies, unions and the public sector to work together. The £100 million facility that is proposed for Nigg and the prospect of 400 jobs in an offshore wind tower factory is a major step in the right direction.
Scotland will be running on the dual fuel model of carbon and renewable energy for some time and we need a sensible collective joined-up solution for transition; the workers involved need to be reskilled for the journey and job opportunities and investments need to be identified. Oil and gas companies and their workers are and must be part of the just transition.
From COP26, paragraph 85 of the Glasgow climate pact has for the first time a reference to just transition, and how we achieve that is of great interest to others and to other Governments. In a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Scotland scored 62 out of 100 on the green jobs barometer and was the top-ranked part of the UK; for every green job created in Scotland, an additional three jobs are created elsewhere in the economy.
In a world where international investments can go anywhere, we need to anchor our transition with Scottish-owned companies, not just Scotland-based companies, and we need to build in sustainability for the whole supply chain and for procurement activity. As we know from West Lothian transitions, inward investment is mobile and can leave.
No Government in the world has done enough to introduce the changes that are needed, but there is no country in the world quite like Scotland, with our experience of shale, coal, cars, electric hydro and nuclear, oil and gas, wind, wave and tidal, and now a focus on and drive to hydrogen.
We will debate, question and scrutinise the steps on the way, but let us stand today united and committed to a just transition for our communities, our country and our climate.16:22
There is cross-party agreement in the Parliament about the need to transition to net zero in a fair and managed fashion. I agree with many of the headline policies that the Scottish Government has announced to address the climate crisis and with a number of the remarks just made by Fiona Hyslop, but I have genuine concerns about how those headline policies are being implemented and the lack of resource, personnel and budget being dedicated to them. Frankly, I have a genuine question about whether the Scottish Government is more interested in headlines than delivering the transformation that is required.
Those same concerns were expressed today by the independent UK Climate Change Committee in its progress report. It expressed doubts about whether Scotland would reach the 2030 interim targets. It has concerns that there is not enough clarity and transparency on policy, that there is little detail to support the delivery of the policy and that implementation has been lacking.
In the spirit of co-operation, let me try to help the minister by providing some recent examples of what the Climate Change Committee refers to in its concerns. In 2017, the First Minister announced the headline policy of a publicly owned energy company that would tackle fuel poverty, reduce energy prices and help meet climate targets. That remained a key Scottish Government policy for the best part of four years, and £500,000 of taxpayers’ money was spent on feasibility studies.
However, the policy was quietly airbrushed away during summer recess and replaced with a new headline policy of a national public energy agency, which was announced with the ambitious objectives of decarbonising homes and buildings and reducing fuel poverty. So far, so good—that sounds like a good policy, but again, on closer inspection, it turned out to be just a headline. The cabinet secretary confirmed to the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee that that virtual agency will be no more than a website with no additional resource, budget or staffing—in other words, a headline policy with no substance has been replaced with another headline policy with no substance. I have genuine concerns about that—the policy intention is good but the delivery is failing.
The same approach has been taken in the Scottish Government motion, which proclaims that
“Scotland is the first country in the world to commit to a Just Transition Planning Framework.”
The member has referred a number of times to the Climate Change Committee report that was published this morning. The report says that if Scotland’s carbon capture and storage projects do not get the go-ahead, we will have to up our commitments to other measures, which, as members have said, is very challenging at the moment. Does it not therefore make sense for the UK Government just to give the go-ahead to the one project that is there and ready to go—the Acorn project—so that we can get on with achieving our net zero targets and creating good green jobs?
I am glad to know that the Scottish cluster is in the first reserve list and continues to get significant support from the UK Government, including £31 million to date. I am pretty sure that the Scottish cluster has a healthy future, backed by UK Government financing. I believe that it has not received any financing from the Scottish Government.
My question to the minister is in relation to the planning framework referred to in the Scottish Government motion. What does it mean and how will it be financed? I do not see any targets or any meaningful way in which the policy can be measured or delivered against.
On the subject of retraining and creating new jobs, there is real concern about how the green jobs workforce academy policy will operate and the resources behind it. The Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee heard in evidence that the green jobs academy is just a website setting out a list of jobs. A representative from the Scottish Trades Union Congress told the committee that the green jobs academy
“will not change any of the fundamentals of job creation or the skills offer.”—[Official Report, Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee, 7 September 2021; c 38.]
He went on to say that what is required instead is a far more fundamental policy change to deliver on jobs and a just transition.
I conclude by quoting today’s Climate Change Committee report, which says:
“Although a broad set of policies and proposals have been announced”—
by the Scottish Government—
“there is still ... little detail on exactly how ... emissions will be reduced in practice.”
Most concerningly, the report goes on to say that the credibility of the Scottish climate framework is in jeopardy.16:27
I will use the short time available to me to outline some concerns about the failure, to date, to take the necessary steps to ensure that we create the green jobs that we need. Despite ambitious targets, jobs have not been created in the numbers and with the terms and conditions required to make a just transition possible. Unless we see seismic change, there will be no just transition.
There is no doubt that we need a jobs and workers-led transition, with the trade unions at the heart of the debate in all sectors. The Scottish Government promised 130,000 green jobs by 2020. However, as has been said previously, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that an estimated 21,400 direct full-time equivalent jobs were created in the low carbon and renewables economy in 2019—the most recent year for which we have figures. That was a fall from 23,100 the previous year and the lowest direct employment since 2014. My concern is that a strategy has not been presented to us today to describe how we will create those new, high-quality jobs.
The Conservative Party amendment welcomes the UK Government’s North Sea transition deal, which includes a commitment to work with employers to secure joint investment of £16 billion to retrain their workforces, but that deal fails to recognise that many of the workforce are contractors, who will therefore not benefit from it.
The recent debate on offshore training passports outlined the transferable skills that many oil and gas workers have. A Robert Gordon University review found that
“over 90% of the UK’s oil and gas workforce have medium to high skills transferability and are well positioned to work in adjacent energy sectors.”
The review projected that 100,000 of the jobs in adjacent energy sectors are likely
“to be filled by people transferring from existing oil and gas jobs to offshore renewable roles”.
However, we are talking about only approximately half of the workforce. The announcement on Cambo makes it clear that change is coming, but well-paid green jobs are not currently being created in the numbers required, and much more needs to be done by both Governments to make them a reality.
Scotland has, of course, huge potential to lead the way in renewable energy. However, our history is one of innovation and invention, but then failure to turn that into mass production. That is, of course, what has happened in the renewables sector in recent decades.
We need an industrial strategy that lays out how domestic industrial capacity will ensure growth in renewable energy production and new jobs in Scotland. As a first step, we need to create a publicly owned energy company, but we also need to look at municipal energy production, such as the solar energy farms that are being created by North Ayrshire Council. The model of public energy provision is mainstream in many other parts of the world, including Germany and the USA.
I welcome the debate on all sides. However, to deliver a just transition, we need to be more radical.16:31
I welcome the opportunity to speak in the debate.
A just transition is key as we move from fossil fuels over the next years. Yesterday, I, along with other Scottish National Party colleagues, met Scottish Renewables, and we heard about the opportunities of the renewables sector in Scotland in delivering an additional 17,000 jobs with an additional £33 billion of gross value added by 2030. Earlier on, we heard from Liam McArthur about the opportunities for 34,000 jobs in retrofitting. Tess White and Katy Clark mentioned the recent report by Robert Gordon University, which stated that 90 per cent of oil and gas industry jobs have medium to high transferability into green and net zero industries. Therein lie the opportunities for us.
On planning for a managed transition, we need this period of change to be shaped proactively. The new just transition commission, which was recently announced, has been mentioned. It is led by Professor Jim Skea who, obviously, has a good background. He is co-chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The commission will provide scrutiny and advice on the on-going development of Scottish Government-led just transition plans. That is quite right, and that is a really important point, which a few people have brought up. Every Government should be held to account, including on the application of the just transition planning framework. The commission will also advise on the most suitable approaches to monitoring and evaluation. I look forward to debating that next year.
The commission will undertake engagement with those most likely to be impacted by the transition, and it will hear from a broad range of representative voices. I think that Katy Clark mentioned the unions. They are vital as we look at doing that.
As I have said, there will, crucially, be an annual report to reflect on progress and, of course, to hold to account. I know that that was mentioned in the CCC call for transparency this morning.
The initial just transition commission report was organised into four overarching themes: planning for a managed transition; equipping people with knowledge and skills; involving those who will be impacted through co-design and collaboration; and spreading the benefits of the transition widely. In the short time that I have, I want to focus on planning for a managed transition to net zero that maximises economic and social opportunities, while managing the risks, and equipping people in Scotland with the knowledge and skills that they need to engage with, and benefit from, the net zero transition, while putting in place safety nets so that no one is left behind.
On managing the transition and maximising economic benefit, we need to continue to set just transition plans for high-emitting industrial sectors of the Scottish economy. We need to continue to set out clear milestones out to 2045, and work with industry, unions and local communities to consult on the best way to develop and implement those. The public sector must be more strategic in its use of funding streams to build strong and resilient local supply chains and ensure maximum economic benefit. I am already undertaking work with my local authority in that regard.
ScotWind opportunities now and in the future must be utilised to secure new opportunities for the Scottish supply chain. The recent Scottish offshore wind energy council strategic investment analysis report looked at the opportunities for Scottish companies in that developing market and benefits from a growing global market.
In Scotland, we need to ensure that we are equipped with the knowledge and skills that are needed to engage with and benefit from the net zero transition, and we need to ensure that no one is left behind. A just transition will demand a steady adaptation of skills and work practices in a way that protects jobs and meets employer demand while contributing to tackling inequality.
The “Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan 2020-2025”—CESAP—which was published at the end of 2020, set out an overarching approach for managing the skills transition. The CESAP implementation plan outlines an ambitious, cohesive approach to green skills and green jobs. The initial just transition commission recommended the creation of a skills guarantee for workers in carbon-intensive sectors who might find that demand for their skills declines or even disappears as the economy changes.
Renewables present great opportunity. We need to maximise the benefits for Scottish companies with a highly skilled workforce and strong supply chain, and we also need to ensure that there is a safety net to support the transition for workers and that the skills and experience that they have built up over many years are retained in the Scottish economy.16:35
Post COP26, this is a critical time at which to double down on the climate science while ramping up action on a just transition. Of course, the oil and gas corporations have funded climate denial for decades, so it is no wonder that recent polling shows that the majority of the public do not trust them to lead the just transition.
However, the oil and gas workers deserve our respect, support and solidarity for the huge contribution that they have made to our energy needs since the 1970s. Those workers should be the people who lead the just transition, but for years they have faced uncertainty in a boom-and-bust sector.
Despite the UK Government’s having donated an eye-watering £13.6 billion of tax subsidy to the oil and gas sector since the Paris agreement was signed, major job losses continue; there have been more than 10,000 jobs lost in the oil and gas sector in the past year. That is in a sector that directly employs just over 30,000 people. Nearly three quarters of workers in it are now employed ad hoc, as contractors. It is no wonder that, in a recent survey, more than 80 per cent of oil and gas workers said that they would consider moving to a different sector, with over half of respondents being interested in renewables and offshore wind. Job security was cited as the biggest factor in that survey.
The UK policy of maximum economic recovery of oil and gas does not help with the just transition. It postpones action, drags investment away from renewables and creates a future cliff edge for workers. It also critically undermines the global UN climate negotiations, making it impossible to ask countries to adopt the language of phasing out coal when we will not phase out our own oil and gas.
That policy of maximum economic recovery could lead to a future sudden collapse in jobs, should climate impacts lead to a high carbon price shutting down production. If we can learn anything from the Tories’ brutal dismantling of the coal industry in the 1980s, it is that such sudden collapses punish communities for generations.
Will Mark Ruskell give way?
I do not have time, unfortunately.
It is absurd to say that stopping the Cambo field would mean turning off the taps on North Sea oil and gas and lead to that kind of unmanaged collapse. There are already 6.5 billion barrels of oil in more than 200 already-licensed fields in the North Sea. That is enough to see us through years of energy transition. It is clear that Cambo would be disastrous. The emissions from burning all 800 million barrels of oil in the field would be 10 times Scotland’s annual emissions and would last well beyond 2045, when we are meant to be a net zero country.
Where would the jobs from Cambo be? Siccar Point Energy has said that the engineering and construction work would be outsourced to a firm that is based in Singapore. The operation is designed to need just 100 to 150 staff, who could end up being drafted in from anywhere in the world.
Calling a halt to Cambo and other new fields is the start of a managed transition rather than the start of a future that is based on the economic chaos of stranded assets that we cannot afford to burn. There have been years of warnings—from those by Mark Carney to the ones from the International Energy Agency—about exactly that scenario.
The announcement of the turbine tower factory at Nigg last week was a hugely important step. It needs to be the first of many more announcements that build a high-value supply chain in Scotland with good-quality and fair jobs.
The just transition must follow the climate science, but it must be designed by the women and men whose livelihoods depend on its success, instead of our listening wholly to corporate boardrooms, which have continually let workers and our climate down for many years.16:40
We are having this debate against the backdrop of COP26 having just been held and Patrick Harvie rejoicing in the potential loss of nearly 100,000 energy jobs in Scotland—the same Mr Harvie who insists on giving cyclists a bad name every time he gets on his bike, whether it be for a ministerial photo call or not.
I want to focus my comments on transport, because it is our biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. We need to decarbonise aviation as much as possible, as well as our ferries—which should not involve buying second-hand diesel boats—and we need to decarbonise our trains, buses, lorries and cars. There is a lot to do. We also need to get more people to make very short local journeys under their own steam, where possible. That means cycling, walking and wheeling.
The Government motion refers to the just transition commission report and the Government’s response to it. On transport, the response says that the ambition is that
“Public transport and active modes of travel are the norm, supplemented by zero emissions vehicles, where needed”,
which is all fine, but the challenge is in how to get there. If we want to get more people on to public transport, there must be services for them to use, and those services need to have fares that are affordable. Cutting train services is not the way, as Colin Smyth noted. Our having public transport deserts, as we do in some places, is not the way, either. We need to move to a fully integrated system, but we are a long way from that.
Public transport is nowhere near being “the norm”. We are yet to have significant reform of the bus system, and we do not yet know what the Scottish Government has planned for our railway; we are months away from it being nationalised. We know that how the ferries are run is in dire of need of a shake-up; we just need the Government to accept that.
Active travel is not “the norm” either, but it is affordable for many people, and it is low carbon. In order to encourage more people to take up cycling, we need safe cycling infrastructure—which usually means segregation. I was at the COP26 rally in Glasgow. I cycled there in the rain, and the message from my fellow cyclists was “Our machines fight climate change!” Mark Ruskell was there, too. Investment in cycling is good value for money, and investment in cycling infrastructure and cycling projects creates new green jobs. Cycling can be part of a just transition to net zero, and it tackles transport poverty.
People in low-income households are far more likely than those in richer households to use public transport, rather than own a car. About 60 per cent of households that have an income of less than £10,000 do not have access to a car; indeed, 55 per cent of households in north-east Glasgow have no access to a car. Using a bike is, for many people on low incomes, a much more affordable option than e-vehicle ownership. Some 81 per cent of people say that they would be motivated to cycle if there were more cycle lanes, traffic-free routes and off-road cycle paths, because they currently feel unsafe on the roads.
I will be looking very carefully at what is announced in the budget this week. We will need action on electric vehicles, buses, trains, ferries and active travel, as well as on improving existing roads. Those are all compatible and they must happen. This week can be a key test of whether either we are serious about change or it is all hot air.16:44
I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak to the motion. The issue is so important not just to me, but to my constituents in Aberdeen Donside and to the wider north-east economy. It is no surprise that the north-east has relied on the oil and gas industry for many years to provide vital jobs and investment in the region. As a result, it has flourished.
Everyone in my constituency is involved in or knows someone who is in the industry, whether they are directly employed by an oil and gas firm or are involved in the supply chain. A hard shutdown with no alternative jobs or investment is not an option. If that were to happen, an entire region would collapse, as happened with closure of the mines in the 1980s. We cannot go down that road; we must put jobs in place to support the 100,000 people who work in the industry. That must be done in a fair and just way that leaves no one behind and which provides sustainable and well-paid jobs for years to come.
The UK Government has deserted the north-east on carbon capture. The opportunities that could come with carbon capture, utilisation and storage in the Acorn project could have been transformational for the region. Conservative members have highlighted that the site is on the reserve list for funding if another project falls through, but that provides little assurance for my constituents and people more widely in the north-east. They do not need empty promises and reserve status; they require solid opportunities and funding to achieve a just transition to net zero.
Will the member give way?
I am sorry. I do not have time.
There can be no just transition without our taking the north-east along with us. We are being left behind by the UK Government.
The transition away from oil and gas is required in order for us to meet our climate change targets. We have a responsibility to play our part in tackling the climate emergency. Inaction is simply not an option: on that, we can all agree.
I have focused mainly on the jobs aspect of the need to transition, but climate change presents a massive opportunity to strive for high-quality zero-carbon housing, and to tackle inequality. Social justice can also be at the heart of our just transition.
In addition to funding the building of thousands of new homes, the Scottish Government is—rightly—increasing investment in home energy efficiency measures. The majority of buildings in Scotland will continue to be used in the future, so we must retrofit what we have, if we are serious about getting our buildings to net zero. On that note, I am pleased that £1.8 billion will be invested over this parliamentary session to allow us to accelerate energy efficiency upgrades and renewable heating deployment. That will create new jobs and supply chain opportunities across Scotland.
The transition must be just and it must protect the jobs of those who are in the existing industry. The just transition commission will be key to ensuring that no one is left behind. It will engage with people who are likely to be impacted by the transition and it will support and scrutinise the Scottish Government’s plans for the transition.
I am pleased that the Scottish Government has committed £500 million over 10 years to support people’s jobs and livelihoods in the north-east and to accelerate the plans for a just transition in the region. The energy transition fund will also provide £62 million to support our vital energy sector and promote sustainable and inclusive growth, as we move towards net zero by 2045.
I understand and sympathise with people in north-east Scotland who might fear the transition and might not be able to imagine an Aberdeen without oil and gas. I welcome the establishment of the just transition commission, which will work to ensure that nobody is left behind. We have a good first step to work towards. We must continue to work together to achieve net zero.
I remind members that there is no time in hand, so any interventions must be absorbed.16:48
As we have heard, the Scottish Government’s response to the just transition commission’s report is not bold enough. Four key areas are crucial to delivering a just transition: skills transferability, public transport, fair work and support for consumers with energy costs.
We heard from Katy Clark that the Scottish Government must do more on skills transferability, particularly in the offshore energy sector. Offshore oil and gas workers are being prevented from transitioning into greener jobs by training costs and a lack of common training standards in the offshore energy sector. I have been working with trade unions such as the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers and climate campaigners such as Friends of the Earth Scotland to highlight the need for an offshore training passport.
Will the member give way?
I do not have time.
When I first raised the suggestion back in September, the First Minister welcomed it as a “constructive proposal”, but the follow-up letter that I received from the Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work offered no new ideas. When I raised the issue again in October, the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity said that she
“would be delighted to meet ... to discuss”—[Official Report, 28 October 2021; c 46.]
the issue, but that meeting has never materialised. Perhaps the just transition minister can clarify the Scottish Government’s position today.
The energy skills alliance is currently developing an all-energy apprenticeship. That will benefit new entrants to the industry, but it will not help the existing workforce. I therefore ask the minister to address, in his closing remarks, whether the Scottish Government will commit to exploring all options for the introduction of an offshore training passport, including through the ESA.
We heard from Graham Simpson that, on public transport, the Scottish Government must do more. It says that it will commission a fair fares review to look at an integrated approach to transport fares. However, many will be wondering why, when integrated fares could be delivered for delegates to COP26, a review is required before the policy can be rolled out to ordinary passengers.
The Scottish Government is also committed to introducing free bus travel for the under-22s, but that does not go far enough. Yesterday, my colleague Paul Sweeney launched his campaign to extend free bus travel to asylum seekers. That would use just 0.0005 per cent of the Scottish budget and, for such small change, would make a massive difference.
Another crucial omission from the Scottish Government’s response is the key role that councils could play in providing affordable, accessible and sustainable public transport. Councils now have the power, but not the cash, to implement that. I ask the minister whether he will commit to looking at all options, including providing start-up capital through the Scottish National Investment Bank, to empower councils to set up municipal bus services.
On fair work, there are fundamental barriers such as low pay, insecure work and poor working conditions that often prevent workers from transitioning into green jobs. To ensure that our transition away from carbon-intensive sectors is worker led, we must ensure that new green jobs are well paid, on secure contracts with excellent terms and conditions. The Scottish Government has committed to introducing a new just transition commission, but that commission must act in the interests of workers. That leads me to my third ask of the minister: will he look at instructing the commission to plan for a just transition framework that extends trade union recognition and collective bargaining rights for workers in all green sectors of the economy?
On public energy, a poll for Citizens Advice Scotland revealed yesterday that more than one in three Scots are struggling to pay their energy bills. Last week, after two years of waiting, the Scottish Government finally released the outline business case for a publicly owned energy company, which revealed that that would produce annual savings for consumers. However, despite so many struggling with energy costs, the Scottish Government appears to be abandoning its pledge to deliver a publicly owned energy company, as Dean Lockhart mentioned earlier—
Ms Villalba, could you please conclude? You are over your time.
My final ask of the minister is: will the Scottish Government fulfil that pledge, or will it be just another empty promise?16:53
What is absolutely clear from the motion, the amendments and the contributions this afternoon is the importance of achieving, alongside our net zero ambitions, a just transition. Tess White put it well when she said that a just transition
“is critical to safeguarding jobs in the energy sector, to protecting the UK’s energy security and to a green recovery.”
Liam McArthur hit the nail on the head when he said that there needs to be credibility. Those on the Government benches have little of that. Graham Simpson picked up on the shameful comments of a Government minister, who described those who support a managed and fair transition for the oil and gas industry as “the hard right”, and on members of the Green Party celebrating moves that risk up to 100,000 jobs while threatening to
“seize ... assets and prosecute ... executives”.
The usually sensible Mark Ruskell doubled down on those comments in some disappointingly ill-informed remarks. It is that sort of tone that undermines Government credibility in this area.
Will the member give way?
I am short of two minutes, I am afraid, Mr Ruskell.
The SNP’s credibility is not enhanced when senior Government ministers argue that the future of the planet depends on Scottish independence. Several members have highlighted the Climate Change Committee’s report, which warns that credibility will be undermined if there is a widening of the gap between targets and achievement. Members will well recall John Swinney’s boast in 2010 that offshore wind energy would create 28,000 posts by 2020. It has delivered fewer than 2,000.
Colin Smyth pointed out that around 22,000 renewable energy jobs have been created in Scotland, but in response to a parliamentary question last week, the minister conceded that
“No data is available to provide ... geographic breakdowns below Scotland level”.—[Written Answers, 18 November 2021; S6W-04273.]
The Scottish Government does not even bother to interrogate the data to find out whether job creation is happening in areas such as the north-east, where job losses are greatest.
Credibility is further damaged by Jackie Dunbar’s reference to a just transition fund and the calls for the UK Government to match it. I remind her that the minister’s copy-and-paste responses to my parliamentary questions show that there are no details about when, where, to whom, from whom or for what it will be paid. We do not even know, and we will not know until spring 2022, which budget it is coming from. What a contrast to the UK’s £16 billion North Sea transition deal. It matches the just transition fund 32 times over, will deliver 40,000 jobs and is happening now.
We have heard that achieving a just transition requires us to take a rational approach to the debate, and not to demonise particular industries and companies. Last Friday, my north-east Conservative colleagues and I met BP to discuss its efforts to utilise its skills, leadership and workforce to effect a genuinely fair and managed transition. Most oil and gas companies in the UK are doing similar. I asked who will finance the bulk of the $70 trillion to $100 trillion cost of global transition. It will have to be private sources, such as sovereign wealth, pension and hedge funds, asset management companies, investment trusts and energy companies. I know that some members do not like to hear that, but we have to start talking sensibly, scientifically and rationally about the industries that we are transitioning from and to, and how we will do it.
Dean Lockhart pointed out that the Scottish Government specialises in “headline policies” with no substance. Yesterday, Russell Borthwick of the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce said:
“We need just transition to become a meaningful programme of action, and not just a glib phrase.”
They are both right, so I say to the minister that we will vote for his motion’s warm words, but he must move away from the soundbites and virtue signalling, acknowledge our demand for meaningful action, and vote for our amendment today.16:57
It is clear from today’s important debate—and I am sure that we will have many more like it in the coming years—that we all approach the agenda from different perspectives and viewpoints. However, there is broad consensus on the urgent need to tackle climate change, and to do so in a way that is fair and brings households, business and communities with us.
I know that many across the chamber have that shared ambition, and I hope that there is opportunity for us to work together to ensure that we get it right in the coming years. Although there will always be some disagreements over policies and priorities, I believe that there is a lot of consensus on the importance of delivering a just transition.
However, that will not prevent me from picking up on some of the inherent contradictions, particularly from members on the Scottish Conservative benches. On the one hand, we hear from Tess White and others that there should be unlimited extraction of fossil fuels. On the other hand, they are complaining that the Scottish Government’s transition is not going fast enough. That does not make sense—it does not square.
Graham Simpson said that he took part in a rally at COP26. Clearly, he thinks that there is an urgent need for action to save the planet. He is willing to talk the talk, but when it comes to walking the walk and the cold reality of taking difficult decisions, he is full of double standards and hypocrisy.
I tell the minister that I have no double standards in me. I have been fighting for cycling for years, which is why I went to the rally and stood beside fellow cyclists who were saying that cycling can save the planet. That is not double standards.
The other aspect of the hypocrisy from the Scottish Conservatives today is the non-stop complaining about the lack of action to create green jobs as alternative employment opportunities for those working in carbon-intensive industries, yet the Conservative UK Government just rejected the Acorn project. The Acorn project was the best project for carbon storage in the whole of the UK and would have created 15,000 green jobs, mainly in the north-east of Scotland.
The UK Government has put £31 million into that project so far. How much has the minister’s Government put in?
The Conservatives have turned down 15,000 green jobs at the same time as they are complaining to the Scottish Government that we are not creating enough green jobs for their constituents in North East Scotland. That is more hypocrisy and double standards from those on the Conservative benches.
There were many references to the Climate Change Committee’s report that came out today. The report poses a number of challenges to the Scottish Government. We must take them seriously because, at this time, no one has all the answers to many of the questions or knows how to implement the changes that we will have to make in society in the fairest possible way or where all the solutions will come from.
This morning, Chris Stark, who is the chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, said that there are really positive aspects to the Scottish plans. He said that the focus on a just transition and the clear steps to integrate net zero into ministerial portfolios across the Scottish Government are great, and that it is also good to see ambition raised in other areas, such as agriculture.
The minister will also know that, as I mentioned, Chris Stark said that there is no transparency to show how the Scottish Government will reach the policy targets that it has set.
That is exactly the same intervention that the member made earlier in the debate, and I answered it at the time.
There a difference between what we are hearing from some members in this Parliament today and what we are hearing from the rest of world. The rest of the world is looking to Scotland and the leadership that we are showing when it comes to implementing a just transition. That leadership is leading to many green jobs being created in our country.
The Labour Party laments the lack of action on green jobs. I said that the latest tranche of awards through the green jobs fund today will create more than 800 green jobs in Scotland. However, the private sector is creating tens of thousands of green jobs. Those are being pledged due to the leadership that the Scottish Government and, indeed, Scotland, are showing in moving towards our net zero targets.
Many members have referred to Global Energy Group’s proposals for Nigg, which will create 400 long-term direct jobs and more than 1,000 indirect jobs. Some 16,400 green jobs will be created by 2030 through heat pump manufacturing and heat in buildings jobs. The hydrogen policy statement says that up to 300,000 green jobs could be supported by 2045, and Robert Gordon University has said that there is the potential for up to 300,000 offshore jobs in Scotland and throughout the UK.
The Acorn project, which the Conservative UK Government has rejected, would have created 15,000 green jobs—not in 10 years or 20 years, but from next year onwards. I ask members to let that sink in, remembering that there are 70,000 oil and gas jobs in Scotland. The Conservative Party has turned down the opportunity to create 15,000 jobs, which is more than 20 per cent of that figure.
A just transition is about learning from past mistakes. We will stand by those who are working in jobs in carbon-intensive sectors. We will work with them to ensure that workers, and citizens, have a voice in their own future and in Scotland’s future.
We will use the challenge of climate change as a window of opportunity to tackle embedded inequalities in society, as well as create good green jobs. This Government, this Parliament and this country can make a contribution to tackling global warming while improving the quality of life of the people who live here.