Meeting date: Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Meeting of the Parliament 24 April 2019
Agenda: Brexit and Scotland’s Future, Portfolio Question Time, General Practitioner Recruitment and Retention, Green New Deal, Business Motions, Point of Order, Decision Time, Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week
- Brexit and Scotland’s Future
- Portfolio Question Time
- General Practitioner Recruitment and Retention
- Green New Deal
- Business Motions
- Point of Order
- Decision Time
- Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week
Green New Deal
The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-17000, in the name of Patrick Harvie, on a green new deal for Scotland.
While members are quickly taking their seats, I say that we have absolutely no time spare in the debate. I might even have to cut time off some of the speeches in the open debate.16:53
In recent months, the concept of a green new deal has gained more recognition and been subject to more debate, particularly because of the work of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the US, which has sparked wider discussion in and beyond the Democratic Party in that country. However, the concept of the green new deal did not begin there. In fact, as far back as 2008, the New Economics Foundation put together the green new deal group, which included my colleague Caroline Lucas as well as respected individuals such as Ann Pettifor. It produced a report that was a response to the financial crash that happened that year. That was far more than just a green jobs strategy; it was an economic agenda that addressed the reregulation of finance, issues around debt and stimulus and corporate tax avoidance, and which featured a heavy emphasis on human wellbeing and quality employment. That work has informed the work of the Scottish Green Party, from our “Jobs in Scotland’s New Economy” report to discussion papers that have been produced by the Green yes campaign on issues such as the necessity for a post-oil future for Scotland’s energy system.
I want to thank the many people who took part in our round-table event yesterday in Parliament. Among the participants were MSPs from a number of different parties, campaigners, researchers and people from the public and private sectors. It was clear from the discussion that there is an appetite for an ambitious approach to applying the green new deal agenda in Scotland. One of our guests from a non-governmental organisation said:
“We clearly need a new approach ... that ... has to be accompanied by a massive acceleration to see the scale of change we need across every sector.”
A representative of the renewable industry said:
“We need something that can build investor confidence and also leverage investment. We need to know the policies supporting renewables will still be there decades down the line.”
Another representative of the renewable industry said:
“The industry is only capable of making evolutionary steps; radical steps won’t be taken by industry.”
That comment was echoed by a range of people around the room who recognised the need to emphasise the role of Government and institutions such as the Scottish national investment bank, because markets and competition alone will not achieve the transformation that is needed.
The green new deal is not a single list of prescriptive policies. It comes under a set of key principles that would not only create the conditions for private investment, but mobilise the power of the state through regulation, fiscal and monetary powers and public and community ownership to address in a coherent way the ecological and social crises that we face, and build an economy that is fair, sustainable and fit for the 21st century. Taken together with the concept of a just transition, it offers a clear platform not only to achieve the radical and rapid economic transformation that is needed, but to ensure that it works for everybody.
The green new deal is a concept that applies differently in different contexts. The situations in the US, the United Kingdom and Scotland are different. Programmes such as universal healthcare, which many in the Democratic Party are arguing for as part of a US green new deal, are already in place here. Federal and state relationships in the US are different from the relationships between Scotland, the UK and the European Union and from the balance of regulatory powers in those jurisdictions. In Scotland, we would need to act within our current limits, as well as seeking to overcome them, as we discussed earlier this afternoon. However, we have a high level of public support for climate action and social justice, and we have an abundant renewable resource. Those conditions should allow us to act.
Looking at the amendments to our motion, I acknowledge that there are merits to some parts of the Scottish Government amendment, but other parts clearly weaken aspects of our motion, especially regarding the amendments that we think are necessary to the Scottish National Investment Bank Bill. Given the need for clarity and consistency to achieve long-term investment, how could Parliament have confidence in this agenda remaining central to the bank’s objects and missions except by setting it out clearly in the legislation? All ministers sometimes behave as though their own political priorities will persist forever, but ministers and Governments change and new ones are often tempted to create change for its own sake in order to make their mark.
We are not impressed by the Scottish Government’s amendment, but if, in the minister’s speech, a clear and explicit commitment can be given to making amendments to the Scottish National Investment Bank Bill that will put this core purpose in the legislation and ensure that it cannot be removed at the whim of a future Government, we will listen to what the minister has to say. I regret that the amendment cuts that principle out of the motion.
The Labour amendment makes similar arguments about the nature of the decisions that we should be making about the just transition commission, placing it on a statutory footing to give it the long-term role that it needs. We will support that amendment, although we have a concern that we must not downplay the current value of the jobs in the green economy.
I recognise that the report that was presented recently to the Scottish Trades Union Congress has an important contribution to make to the debate, but it should be acknowledged—including in that report—that there are already more than 46,000 direct and indirect jobs in the low-carbon and renewable energy industries in Scotland. I acknowledge that there have been missed opportunities to do more, but we should take care not to feed the narrative that is promoted by the anti-wind power and climate-denial movements. The potential is real if we have the political will to commit to it. The alternative to this agenda—business as usual—is simply not viable.
Obviously, we will oppose the Conservative amendment not only for what it deletes but for the Conservatives’ continued attachment to the idea that everlasting economic growth is the way to achieve either a sustainable economy or a fair, just and equal society. Let us be clear: the right-wing agenda of growth-obsessed, free-market capitalism is what has brought about multiple social, ecological and economic crises. We cannot expect the ideas that brought us to this point to offer the necessary solutions to the problems that they created.
We are in a moment of recognition of the scale of change that is needed—not just in deploying new, greener technologies such as renewables, but in rejecting the idea that our current economy can continue, while individuals are told to make different consumer choices. Individual choices matter, but if we make those choices within the context of the economic status quo, with corporations given a free pass to keep extracting and hoarding wealth and Governments prioritising immediate growth over long-term survival, we will fail. The Greens are not willing to watch that failure and, increasingly, neither are the wider public. We put forward the concept of a green new deal and we encourage all parties to embrace that opportunity positively.
That the Parliament notes the growing interest in Scotland and across the world in a Green New Deal, which is an agenda that requires the mobilisation of regulatory, fiscal and monetary powers to achieve a rapid and just transition to a zero carbon economy; welcomes the reduction in Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions to date and believes that a Green New Deal policy would offer a delivery vehicle for more ambitious climate targets in the next decade while creating quality jobs, achieving a sustainable economy and addressing the severe inequalities in the economy; further welcomes the work of the Just Transition Commission and the First Minister’s comments that “a Scottish Green Deal” will be a key mission of the Scottish National Investment Bank, and calls on the Scottish Government to develop a Green New Deal policy for Scotland that establishes a 10-year economic and public investment strategy that priorities decarbonisation, community and employee-led transition away from high- to low- and zero-carbon industry, the eradication of inequality and the restoration of Scotland’s environment, and for it to publish amendments to the Scottish National Investment Bank Bill to make this agenda a central part of the bank’s core objects.17:00
I welcome today’s opportunity to debate enhanced mechanisms for the transition to a carbon-neutral Scotland. It is important to challenge ourselves, learn from others around the globe and work together to deliver carbon neutrality.
Climate change is a global challenge and there is a growing international focus on how to meet that challenge. As I have said many times before, delivering a carbon-neutral Scotland might be difficult, but there are also huge opportunities. The Scottish Government recognises the urgency of the call to action on climate change. We are already a recognised world leader with our climate change ambitions and we intend to maintain that level of ambition.
I welcome the fact that, just before recess, the Parliament constructively supported the principles of the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill at stage 1. During today’s debate, it is important that we recognise that the bill both maintains Scotland’s place
“among those at the forefront of global ambition on climate change”
“target setting more transparent and accountable”.
The Scottish Government has been absolutely clear that we want to achieve net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases as soon as possible and that we intend to set a target date for that in law as soon as it can be done credibly and responsibly.
The 2017 advice from the Committee on Climate Change proposed the most ambitious statutory emissions reduction targets of any country in the world for 2020, 2030 and 2040. We were happy to take that advice and we drafted our legislation accordingly. It will mean that Scotland is carbon neutral by 2050. The world-leading nature of the bill’s targets has been recognised by a number of leading international figures, including Laurent Fabius, architect of the Paris agreement, who described the bill as
“a concrete application of the Paris agreement”.
However, the special report that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published last October represents a significant step forward in the scientific evidence that underpins the Paris agreement. Responding quickly to the IPCC’s report, the Scottish Government joined the Welsh and UK Governments in commissioning further independent expert advice on targets from the CCC. That advice is scheduled to be published on 2 May. If the CCC advises next week that higher targets for Scotland are now credible, the Scottish Government will, as we have said consistently, amend the bill accordingly at stage 2.
At the STUC conference last week, the First Minister was clear that ushering in the carbon-neutral age should not just make Scotland a greener nation but must make us a healthier, wealthier and fairer nation. We believe that a just transition to carbon neutrality will create jobs through new sustainable industries, be good for communities and help to tackle inequalities and poverty. The benefits of transitioning to a carbon-neutral economy need to be shared widely. We must be mindful not to leave anyone behind, whether they be businesses, industry or domestic consumers.
That focus on a just transition builds on our approach to maximising the opportunities of a low-carbon economy. As Patrick Harvie acknowledged, in 2017, the Scottish low-carbon and renewable energy sector supported more than 46,000 jobs and generated more than £11 billion in turnover. That is significant. Together, across the chamber, we have a responsibility to promote what Scotland is achieving.
Of course, we can always strive to do better, and the Government has long been committed to ensuring that Scotland maximises the economic opportunity of the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. We need to work together to plan for and invest in socially and environmentally sustainable jobs, sectors and economies. We have never said that we hold all the answers to this. We have been open to advice, sought the opinion of others and looked widely at best practice. That resulted in the establishment of the just transition commission—we were the first country anywhere to do that. The commission brings together 11 independent members and is chaired by Professor Jim Skea. The remit is to advise on continuing the transition in a way that promotes social cohesion and equality. Work started in January and independent advice on the opportunities and challenges of moving to a carbon-neutral economy will be provided within two years.
I hope that the chamber will support the proposal of a Scottish green new deal to secure the economic and social benefits for everyone of delivering our climate change targets. The early core principles of the green new deal—job creation linked with decarbonisation, tackling inequality within communities and ensuring access to finance to accelerate the transition—are not new. In fact, they are consistent with many of this Government’s policies and with our programme.
I look forward to hearing views from across the chamber on these areas today. We are listening and if we need to reshape or refocus existing activity to maximise the benefits for Scotland, we will. However, of particular interest to me are the views of members on the additional regulatory, fiscal and monetary powers that the Scottish Government would need to implement such a new deal fully. As our amendment recognises,
“the main fiscal and monetary policy levers”
to support action in this area remain
“reserved to the UK Government”.
I have made many calls on the UK Government to increase its ambition to tackle climate change and to better align with the level of ambition in Scotland. While regulatory levers remain reserved, we need the UK Government to do its bit in order for Scotland to achieve net zero emissions as soon as possible.
Will the member take an intervention?
The cabinet secretary is just closing.
Therefore, it is hard not to refer members back to the content of the First Minister’s statement earlier, in which she reiterated our commitment to pursing Scottish independence. We need to have all the necessary tools and levers at the disposal of this Parliament to deliver for Scotland. That will allow us to work together to promote Scotland’s success, the skills of its people and the level of ambition in this area.
I move amendment S5M-17000.3, to leave out from “zero carbon economy” to end and insert:
“carbon-neutral economy, recognising that the main fiscal and monetary policy levers are reserved to the UK Government; calls on the UK Government to increase its ambition to tackle climate change and to work with Scotland towards net-zero emissions as soon as possible; welcomes the reduction in Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions to date and believes that a Green New Deal policy would offer a delivery vehicle for more ambitious climate targets in the next decades while creating quality jobs, achieving a sustainable economy and addressing the severe inequalities in the Scottish economy; calls on the Scottish Government to develop a Green New Deal policy for Scotland that establishes a 10-year economic and public investment strategy to promote an inclusive and sustainable economy that prioritises decarbonisation, the eradication of inequality and the restoration of Scotland’s environment in a way that supports community and employee-led actions; welcomes the work of the Just Transition Commission and the First Minister’s comments that the transition to a carbon-neutral society will be a key mission of the Scottish National Investment Bank, and calls on the Scottish Government to work with other parties to ensure that this agenda is a central part of the Scottish National Investment Bank’s core activities.”17:07
We agree with much of the sentiment in the Green motion, but we will not be able to support the text of the motion in its entirety. Indeed, having heard Patrick Harvie’s articulation of extreme socialism, I can say that that is no way in which to tackle climate change.
Nevertheless, whether we call it a green new deal, the circular economy or anything else, successfully tackling the breakdown of our climate can be achieved only by building a more sustainable economy. Business as usual is not an option. Therefore, the Scottish Conservatives stand ready to work with any proposals in this area and we will take an evidence-based approach with regard to our support.
The public appetite for such change is growing, and the Parliament is at its best when members work together to deliver on that, putting the needs of our planet and the next generation ahead of party politics. We have already seen that on individual policies, for example when Scottish Conservative and Green MSPs alike called for a moratorium on new incineration capacity in Scotland or when the Scottish Conservatives led cross-party support to introduce energy efficiency targets to tackle fuel poverty.
However, co-operation can be difficult when some people indulge in making unrealistic promises or peddling utopian fantasies. Consider the Scottish National Party’s claim that renewables would create 20,000 jobs, only for those jobs not to materialise in Scotland. False dawns erode the public trust that we need to transition away from some of the older industries, yet the Greens are now promising 10 times as many jobs from a rapid low-carbon transition. With livelihoods at stake, many people—particularly in the north-east but also throughout Scotland—will be sceptical of such claims and will wonder how those fanciful scenarios will work in the real world.
What does the member have to say about those working in solar energy who saw the UK Government’s policy erode that industry overnight?
Temporary market interventions are to be welcomed but, ultimately, the business case for renewables, or for any intervention on climate change, must stack up. I urge John Finnie to think about the economic realities of today, and to use the business case that we have to promote the circular economy. However, I appreciate that such advice is often lost on Green Party members, as can be seen from their actions over consecutive budgets. Each time, the Greens could have pressed for transformational environmental policies in return for backing the SNP but, instead, all that we got was a tax on people driving to work.
I welcome the ambitions of both the UK and Scottish Governments. The UK Government is a world leader in tackling climate change and transitioning to a sustainable economy. Greenhouse gas emissions are down by a quarter from 2010, while the share of our electricity needs from renewables is up from just under 6 per cent in 2009 to a third now. That has been brought about by a £52 billion investment that did not just promise low-carbon jobs but delivered 400,000 of them.
Scotland has made progress, too, thanks to public and private sector action. We lead the UK in emissions reductions, with a drop of almost half, and our renewables electricity share is over two thirds. However, Scottish Conservatives are determined to continue pushing for practical, evidence-based policies so that real change can be delivered. For example, establishing urban consolidation hubs and switching public procurement to electric vehicles, where possible, by 2027 would help to tackle transport emissions, reduce air pollution and promote positive economic and health outcomes. Projects such as an electric arc furnace and a new plastics recycling plant would also help to deliver the low-carbon jobs that we need, while boosting recycling. Underpinning all that is the circular economy—
Will the member take an intervention on that point?
Mr Golden is just closing.
We would embed the circular economy across all Government departments, to ensure that protecting the environment, reducing waste and creating opportunities for all are at the heart of future Scottish Government policies. That is the type of green new deal that Scotland needs.
I move amendment S5M-17000.1, to leave out from “notes” to end and insert:
“recognises that prosperity and economic growth should be positively aligned with tackling climate change and environmental protection; welcomes the reduction in Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions to date; notes that a forward-thinking industrial strategy and sustainable public procurement practices can aid a just transition, and believes that implementing a circular economy strategy for Scotland is an effective way to bring about this transition.”17:12
Scottish Labour members welcome the debate. We want to reinstate full employment as a goal of public policy. We want to see real economic change and a new kind of society—a caring society in which the whole economy is a social economy and every job is a green job.
Of course, it is important that the debate starts with the subject of renewable energy jobs, but we must recognise that there is a need for a green new deal across all sectors of the economy. I say, in all sincerity, that we will not attain the transformative change that we need by leaving it up to market forces, or to the mitigation of market forces through defensive rescues. Anyone who doubts that should look at the powerful oral evidence that was submitted to the Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee yesterday morning. They should read the hard-hitting report entitled, “Broken Promises and Offshored Jobs”, which was presented to the Scottish Trades Union Congress in Dundee last week. They could also go and ask the workers at BiFab in Methil and Burntisland, and at Arnish Point. The introduction to the new STUC report is very clear on that, so I will quote from it. It states:
“the STUC is absolutely committed to building a low-carbon economy and meeting climate change targets. However, we are criticising the failure of industrial policy”.
I would go further: we are not merely
“criticising the failure of industrial policy”,
but are criticising the Scottish Government’s failure to have such a policy in the first place.
When, as leader of the Scottish Labour Party, I addressed the STUC last week, I called for trade union involvement not just in sectoral collective bargaining but in sectoral economic and industrial planning, because we need to transform our institutions.
If we are to repurpose not just the Michelin Tyre site in Dundee or the Caley rail works in Glasgow, but the whole Scottish economy, it cannot be done according to the central tenets of neoliberal economics—the old ideas of privatisation, austerity and rolling back the state. It cannot be done, either, through a continued overreliance on imported goods and services, on foreign direct investment or on multinational financial and corporate interests.
Instead, we need an innovative state. That means using the powers that the Scottish Government has in procurement, planning, licensing and investment to ensure that low carbon and renewable energy developments bring far greater economic benefit to communities across Scotland, and it means establishing a properly capitalised national investment bank in order to secure by public investment the economic rebalancing that we need and the building up of our manufacturing base that must go with it. It also means investing in new forms of common ownership—co-operative ownership, municipal ownership and public ownership.
There is a growing restlessness out there, with school pupils striking and young people, some of whom have no vote, raising voices that need to be heard and listened to. Across all generations, there is a rising determination, which this Parliament needs to reflect better, on the need for new urgency of action and renewed vitality on the need for change.
I am optimistic that we can make the leap and the transformative change that we need with a planned transition—a democratic transition and a just transition—so that the very economic foundations of society become much more democratic, much more accountable and much more sustainable, because the struggle that we face to halt climate change and save the planet is, in the end, a struggle for social, economic and environmental justice. It is a struggle that not only can be, but must be won.
I move amendment S5M-17000.2, to insert at end:
“; believes that it is vital that these ambitions are met with actions, and notes the concerns raised in the report, Broken Promises and Offshored Jobs, published by the STUC, which exposes the consistent failure to deliver jobs in the low-carbon and renewable energy economy; further notes the need to actively support community, cooperative, municipal and public ownership models; agrees with the calls of young people for urgent action to deliver both jobs and skills opportunities in this climate emergency, and calls on the Scottish Government to consider establishing the Just Transition Commission on a basis that is statutory, long-term, well funded and independent of government.”17:17
I can agree with much of what has been said so far. Building a fair and sustainable economy requires change, and that change must be fair and just. It must mean not greater concentration of wealth, but fairer distribution. That means jobs and opportunities for local communities, which often feel left behind, and it requires investment, regulation and incentives by Government.
However, recent evidence is not encouraging. I wish it was not the case, but there is real anger in Fife about BiFab. Keith Brown, when he was the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, said that the takeover of BiFab by D F Barnes was “a very good day” for employees, and he assured Parliament that the firm had no intention of shedding more staff. Just 21 days later, many of those employees lost their jobs. Weeks later, the company failed to win contracts for fabrication of turbine jackets and floating platforms for the Moray East and Kincardine wind projects.
Gary Smith from the GMB has spoken much sense on the subject and has captured the sense of betrayal in local communities. He said:
“To working class communities in Burntisland and Methil this doesn’t look ... like a just transition or a green jobs revolution”.
When Mainstream Renewable Power was lobbying for the Neart na Gaoithe wind farm in the outer Forth estuary, it said that it would create hundreds of jobs during construction and operation, and
“generate significant local economic impact across the country, in particular on the east coast from Dundee to Eyemouth”
It specifically lobbied for the support of working-class communities on the basis that they would see a return for their communities in terms of jobs.
The former First Minister, Alex Salmond, promised that Scotland would be a Saudi Arabia of renewables manufacturing. Now is the crunch time for the Scottish Government to deliver on those promises to the BiFab workers and workers across the country, in order to make sure that we have that just transition.
I support renewables. Our record on renewables is strong, but we need to make sure that we take everyone with us, which means making sure that the communities in Fife that I have talked about get a return for the investment. They have an interest in the long-term survivability and sustainability of our planet, but they also need those jobs right now. Today’s debate enshrines the importance of building a fairer and more equal society, while transitioning away from carbon-dependent industries.
Liberal Democrats have consistently forced the pace in countering climate change threats. In Government, we have a proud record—from nearly tripling electricity from renewables to making more than 1 million homes warmer and cheaper to heat, to securing an ambitious EU-wide agreement on tackling climate change. We delivered in the face of almost daily battles with the Conservative Party in Government. Today, we oppose the opening of a new front in terms of carbon-based fuels with fracking, just as we opposed the Scottish Government’s proposed subsidy for the open-cast coal industry and the SNP’s plans to slash air passenger duty.
We urge the Scottish Government to get a grip of its waste strategy, which only yesterday was heavily criticised by a report that highlights the problem of having a million tonnes of waste. How on earth can sending Scotland’s waste to England for landfill meet our environmental obligations? That shows that speeches in the chamber are insufficient to tackle climate change. It is action that counts.17:21
It is very clear that we are now standing at the crossroads in the climate emergency. There is an ambitious path that we can take with vision, courage, dynamism and a commitment that we will leave no one behind in the transition that is necessary.
We can start the journey by setting a net zero emissions target in our Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill, which will send the strongest signal to everyone—from the climate striker to the banker—that Scotland’s mission is to meet the climate emergency head on. As Greta Thunburg said to MPs yesterday,
“Sometimes we just simply have to find a way. The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything.”
That is what industry voices are demanding, too. Aviva has said that
“A net zero ... target would give us the confidence we need to scale up ... investments and help to deliver a zero carbon economy”.
The Scottish Government needs the clear vision, the mission and the confidence to tackle the climate crisis, even though the solutions cannot be mapped out with certainty by either the UK Climate Change Committee or this Parliament. A change in mindset is needed across the whole of Government in order to tackle the challenge. Setting a net zero emissions target is the first step, but a green new deal is essential to enable industries to make the big transformative leap to doing things differently and better.
The economist Keynes wrote that the role of
“government is not to do things which individuals are doing already ... but to do those things which at present are not done at all.”
There lies the strongest tool in the box that we have to drive transformation and transition. The state has provided the foundation for our biggest breakthroughs. The technology behind the internet, the iPhone and pharmaceuticals all came through a confident and risk-taking state that invested in innovation not just to fix markets but to help to create entirely new ones.
Leading industry voices came together in Parliament yesterday to discuss a green new deal. They have a thirst to deliver the change, but they alone cannot develop the solutions to the climate crisis when the solutions are at their most risky stage of development. That is where the Scottish Government must up its game, starting with a stronger national investment bank that has a clearer statutory purpose, alongside a bold public energy company that is set up to share directly in the financial rewards of progress.
Simply hoping that the free market will find the path on its own, when fossil fuel corporates are investing more than $200 million every year in climate change lobbying, is at best naive. Government needs to lead the mission with an energy policy that is not based simply on there being more of everything. The Scottish Government has funded the Oil & Gas Technology Centre: its mission can only be decommissioning and transition, not gunning for extracting every last drop of oil by 2040.
One tragedy of the BiFab situation, which was mentioned by Willie Rennie, is that the state did not take a direct stake earlier in the offshore wind supply chain. Instead, yards at Methil sat waiting for much-needed private investment that never came, which affected the competitiveness of the company.
Government must take the lead in growing markets in which we have an advantage, such as wave and tidal energy, while championing new low-carbon opportunities that are not yet off the drawing board.
We can draw inspiration from history and from great doers like Tom Johnston, who wielded the transformative power of the state to deliver our first great renewables revolution. At the same time, we can ensure that no worker, from the oil and gas engineer to the farmer, is left behind.
Our chances of walking out of the crisis get slimmer every day. The alarm bells rang a long time ago. It is time to get up and run; it is time for a green new deal for Scotland that tackles the climate emergency, creates hundreds of thousands of jobs across Scotland, and makes Scotland a fairer and more equitable nation.17:25
I welcome the debate and thank the Greens for bringing it to the chamber this afternoon.
The Greens and my party share a number of common goals, as well as having some differences. One of the common goals is that a glass ceiling should certainly not be placed on Scotland and that independence is the way forward to deliver a better Scotland. Patrick Harvie touched on that in his speech, as did the First Minister in her statement earlier this afternoon. Some members in the Parliament do not agree with that position, which is legitimate from their perspective. However, if the Scottish Government developed green new deal proposals that required either support from the UK Government or the devolution of powers in order to deliver them, would the Scottish Tories support its efforts in principle? In his speech, Maurice Golden said that they will look at any proposals. If that is the case, I welcome the Tories’ support of the Scottish Government in that regard.
I have a genuine comment for the Tories: we can all agree that we want to see a cleaner, greener Scotland and help to deliver our carbon-neutral economy, but the Tories’ amendment mentions a “circular economy strategy”. Clearly, we could have been further down the line and progressed on the journey to carbon capture and storage if the UK Government had not cancelled the CCS competition in 2015.
Rather than blaming Westminster for one particular aspect, does Mr McMillan not accept that the SNP Government’s household recycling target, which will not be met for 12 years after the deadline was set, is a real indictment of the SNP Government?
I accept that the Parliament does not have the full range of powers to deal with many of the issues that Scotland has to address. I will touch on something else that Mr Golden commented on: how do the Tories explain nuclear waste in regard to the circular economy or the environment? Storage of the waste is not something that the vast majority of the population see as a positive.
I am not sure whether the Tories recognise that the circular economy is one of the headline themes of Scotland’s manufacturing action plan. It sits alongside skills, innovation and all the other things that we would expect to find in a manufacturing plan.
As the cabinet secretary highlighted, the Scottish low-carbon and renewable energy sector supported more than 46,000 jobs and generated more than £11 billion in turnover in 2017. The just transition commission has been established to provide ministers with practical advice on promoting a fair, inclusive jobs market as we move to a carbon-neutral economy. On the face of it, Labour’s amendment, which proposes a statutory footing for the just transition commission, sounds reasonable, but surely Labour members will agree that the best course of action is to wait for the commission to report back, then base decisions on what is needed for subsequent years.
Will the member give way?
I am just about to finish. I am sure that they will also agree that the landscape might have changed by then—it might be different in two years’ time, and the commission might not be the most appropriate body for the work that is required then.
The just transition commission is an important addition to delivering a carbon-neutral economy. I welcome constructive dialogue being a central pillar of its approach.
Presiding Officer, I am conscious of the time, so I will conclude. I want the Scottish Government to develop a green new deal policy that promotes an inclusive and sustainable economy that prioritises decarbonisation.17:30
I declare an interest as a farmer and food producer.
Although I agree with much of the sentiment of what has been said today, I take a less radical and more cautious approach than the Greens in building on what we have, always bearing in mind that Scotland is responsible for only 0.1 per cent—or one thousandth—of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
We can offer leadership and play our full part, but in doing so note that every option costs money. The Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill’s financial memorandum guesstimates that a net zero by 2050 target will cost £13 billion. Who will pay for the transformational change that is likely to be required to take us to a low-carbon economy?
Much is made by WWF and others of the opportunities for innovation and the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and that is certainly an objective that I would like to see fulfilled, but I just do not think that it will happen.
Will the member give way?
I am really pushed for time—I am sorry.
Let us look at onshore and offshore wind, which is our most successful low-carbon industry. So far, it has provided fewer than 10,000 jobs. Although developing completely new industries not yet thought of that will deliver a bonanza of almost 200,000 jobs is a laudable aim, it is not yet supported by the facts, experience or Scotland’s track record, as far as I can see.
If innovative and start-up companies are—with the best will in the world—unable or unlikely to provide the investment to create or sustain tens of thousands of new jobs, the knee-jerk reaction here in Scotland has always been to look to Government to do so. However, based on the track record of the past 14 years, the Government has neither the money nor the ability to develop new industries that will create tens of thousands of jobs and produce a worldwide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Put simply, the Government’s capital investment moneys are, will be and should be used to build new hospitals, schools, roads, railways and housing. The Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, Derek Mackay, never tires of telling us there is not enough money to do that.
The question remains: who will finance the necessary infrastructure changes? The answer is those with the research and investment budgets—namely, the current fossil fuel energy providers, as they transition to providing energy in a low-carbon way. Scottish Power is a shining example of what I mean.
It is a similar situation with transport. Existing train, bus and car manufacturers will, in reality, be the deliverers of real change. As Simon French cogently argued in The Times on Saturday,
“it will fall to private sector groups to build the infrastructure necessary for a low-carbon economy”,
to which we all aspire today.
The same will be true for agriculture. Landowners, land managers and farmers will have to provide the capital, supported by a more holistic appraisal of what agricultural land delivers, to create a low-carbon rural economy.
Maurice Golden’s amendment helpfully points us in the direction of a circular economy, which, again, builds on what we have, with those who are already doing the business continuing to do so in a low-carbon way.
It will be for the Government to declare its level of ambition, following advice from the Committee on Climate Change, and set responsible and achievable targets that will, in large part, be delivered by the private sector. Of course, local authorities, health boards and other Government agencies will have a part to play, but the big shift in innovation to low-carbon infrastructure in energy provision, low-carbon agriculture and low-carbon transport will come from the private sector, and we must encourage it to do all that it can by creating a fiscal climate here in Scotland that encourages it to deliver the better future that we all seek.17:34
The motion before us today refers to
“a rapid and just transition.”
As Richard Leonard said, most of us will sign up to that. The challenge is how to strike the right balance between speed and fairness in that transition. Getting that balance right is vital for many sectors of our economy and for the jobs and livelihoods of those who work in them. It is particularly important that we get the balance right from the point of view of our energy industries and energy workers.
North East Scotland has one of the largest concentrations of energy expertise anywhere in Europe. Aberdeen—the oil capital of Europe for the past 40 years—aspires to be the energy capital of Europe for the next 40 years and beyond. How to make a just transition is therefore not an abstract issue; it is a matter of vital and personal interest to tens of thousands of people in the area that I represent and, indeed, across Scotland.
Would Lewis Macdonald acknowledge that it is important that the Oil & Gas Technology Centre that has been set up becomes an all-energy technology centre that addresses the needs of emerging technologies, including renewables?
Mark Ruskell is absolutely right to make that point—that is what the Oil & Gas Technology Centre is. I am sure that, when he visits, he will find that it is doing many good and innovative things in offshore renewable energy. I am glad that he mentioned that, because although it is not on my list, it is a critical part of energy transition.
Other big steps have already been taken. Aberdeen has the largest fleet of hydrogen buses in Europe; the world’s largest wind turbines generate power in Aberdeen bay; the largest domestic district heating scheme in Britain has cut both carbon emissions and fuel poverty for thousands of council tenants; and the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group provides an outstanding model of municipal leadership in working towards a low-carbon economy. Indeed, Aberdeen bay is only one of a large and growing number of wind farms in North East Scotland, onshore and offshore, and the Acorn project at St Fergus has the potential to lead Britain and Europe in enabling carbon capture and storage in the North Sea.
Those many projects are crowded into the north-east not just because we have innovative universities, enterprising councils and a world-class workforce—although it is true that we have all those things. The projects are there because we have energy industries and energy workers who have been delivering for a generation, working in some of the toughest environments in the world and developing successive new technologies to overcome technical challenges that would once have been seen as insurmountable.
Public policy and expectation now look to our energy industries and energy workers to make different things happen. Those industries and workers are already adapting, seeking to deliver both low-carbon energy and successful carbon sequestration in those same challenging offshore environments. The choice that we now have to make is whether to seek to deliver energy transition through partnership with the energy sector and energy workers, or to do it in opposition to existing energy businesses and those who work for them. We should choose to develop a strategy to deliver real change, not simply to virtue signal at the expense of the people who work in our energy industry.
Labour is clear that we want real change, and that we want to deliver it in partnership with workers in energy. We need to see real action by Scottish and UK Government ministers to secure real jobs in the renewable energy sector, as an essential precondition of a just transition for our existing energy workforce. Many oil and gas workers are fully engaged with the debate. They are clear that energy transition must start with the creation of high-quality, highly skilled new energy jobs, not with getting rid of those that we already have.
A generation ago, Scotland failed to capture the economic benefits of onshore wind, despite having led the way in developing the technology. We must not let that happen again. Government must find new ways to secure those future energy jobs, and it must do so in partnership with our people who work in the energy industry.17:38
I thank the Green Party for bringing this important debate to the chamber. We hear the term “green new deal” being used a lot right across the world. More than ever, we see the mobilisation of not just pressure groups—as was once the case—but citizens and businesses towards a carbon-neutral economy. Indeed, we see our young people leading the way by taking part in the school strike for climate movement, with pupils choosing to take part in demonstrations to demand that action is taken to prevent further global warming and climate change.
Like others, I commend the Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg. At just 16 years old, she is showing not just her fellow young people but everyone how activism and taking a stand can make a difference, regardless of age or background.
I also thank the many young people in my Coatbridge and Chryston constituency who have contacted me about the issue over the past couple of weeks and, indeed, the couple of folk who have emailed me during the debate. I thank them for all the work that they are doing.
We—not just as a country, but as a planet—are facing the potential for a state of environmental emergency. There is not much dispute about that. The time to take meaningful action is passing us by, but we must also ensure that measures are in place so that we are fully prepared for the economic challenges that come with transitioning to a greener and healthier Scotland. There is no reason why we cannot be both green and prosperous—after all, the low-carbon and renewable energy sector generated more than £11 billion in 2017.
In some ways, Scotland’s natural environment is almost perfect for us to become green, and it is no surprise that it is worth £20 billion a year to our economy, sustaining 60,000 direct jobs. Rural Scotland covers 98 per cent of Scotland’s landmass, and three of Scotland’s key growth sectors—food and drink, energy and tourism—are reliant on Scotland’s natural resources. We must therefore ensure that protective measures are in place and that our rural economy is safeguarded. There is consensus that Brexit is one of the main threats to our rural economy at the moment.
We also know that our industrial sector accounts for more than half our exports and sustains a significant number of high-value jobs across Scotland. That is why I agree with the cabinet secretary’s comments. We cannot make the transition to a low-carbon future without ensuring that domestic industries continue to thrive, as opposed to meeting targets through diminishing the industrial base across Scotland and risking industries relocating to areas in which climate regulation is less stringent. I am sure that Richard Leonard and other members of the Labour Party agree that we do not want to put our workers in difficulty or at any disadvantage. That is why I believe that the just transition commission, which will report back in two years, is a very important factor in our move towards a carbon-neutral economy. We must look at all the different aspects in that regard—for example, increasing active travel and the new jobs that other members have mentioned.
I urge local authorities to take action. I am glad to see that carbon management plans are being followed across the country. North Lanarkshire Council, which is the local authority for my constituency, has come to the end of its current plan and will propose its new plan to committee within the next few weeks. I have been assured as recently as today that substantial measures are being put in place and that funding for pilot projects to work towards lower carbon emissions is being sought. I urge the local councillors who will be at that committee to guarantee that the new three-year plan is rigid and substantial enough to ensure that we see real change by 2022.
In putting that challenge to North Lanarkshire Council, I thank it for its strong support for the local community in Coatbridge, who are against an incinerator in a situation that has gone on for 11 years. The council has responded to environmental concerns in the past, and I hope that that will continue.17:43
I welcome the Scottish Green Party’s lodging the motion for debate. Scottish Labour will support Patrick Harvie’s motion.
A green new deal could be the way to root our climate ambitions in systematic economic transformation for the public good with the right criteria. However, at this stage in the debate, it is worth reflecting on the opportunities in the low-carbon and renewables economy that have slipped away from Scotland because of poor planning and the failure to support Scottish industry. The STUC’s report is right to lament what could have been as we see European neighbours reaping the benefits and contracts slipping through our fingers.
Scottish Renewables has also spoken about historic underinvestment in UK yards compared with investment in Europe, but it caveated that by saying:
“There are certainly things that can be done ... and the issues are fixable.”
A green new deal could certainly be the way to focus attention on those issues across all sectors, pulling together the just transition, the Scottish national investment bank, an industrial strategy, new forms of ownership and our climate targets.
The just transition commission must be at the very core of a green new deal. Yes, we need investment and strategy, but equity must remain the final test. The commission will have that role, and Scottish Labour is adamant that such a provision must be written into statute in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill. To fulfil its remit, the commission must be long term, independent of Government and well resourced.
Although the need for a just transition in the energy sector is an imperative for Scottish Labour, support across a range of other sectors is equally important. One such sector is the farming and land use sector. Many farmers work in isolation, meaning that the consequences of climate mitigation and adaptation are less visible than they are in communities where such measures are concentrated or in the energy sector. The farming and land use sector also needs forward planning in terms of policy, accompanied by advice and support from the commission and skills training.
If support for change is provided across all sectors, we will continue to discover new areas for improvement, which will bring innovation and jobs. One such area is the textiles sector, which currently produces 65,000 tonnes of waste for landfill every year. A new circular economy approach would also help to tackle clothing poverty.
The Labour amendment calls for the green new deal to support alternative forms of ownership in the public interest. We know about the offshore wind industry in my colleague Lewis Macdonald’s region, and there are Scandinavian and other models under which publicly owned offshore wind industries operate. If the Scandinavian countries can do it, so can we in Scotland, and we must support that work.
There are other forms of energy that are provided in the public interest. On a smaller scale, the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative is climate friendly, and the surplus can be reinvested for social good. Worldwide, municipalities are forging their own path. As Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York city, says:
“One of the best steps national governments can take to fight climate change is to empower their cities with the tools and autonomy they need to act.”
Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group has taken a lead on that issue, as have others across Scotland and the UK.
There is also community ownership. The Galson estate on Lewis has three 900kW wind turbines, the net profit from which is distributed to the community via the Galson Estate Trust’s community investment fund, which has provided support for community and social events. Taking into account other funds that have been leveraged in, the total support for such initiatives amounts to £2.3 million.
Scotland can create stable jobs, strengthen communities, wipe out fuel poverty, do its bit to stem climate change and relocalise economies. As Richard Leonard said, we need an “innovative state”. The green new deal, supported by the just transition commission, must get this right for the people of Scotland.17:47
I refer members to my entry in the register of members’ interests in connection to a smart meter business in England.
The debate deals with one of the most pressing and critical challenges that this and future generations face: how to address climate change by transitioning to a carbon-neutral economy and society.
Our amendment to the Green motion highlights the increasing recognition in Scotland and across the world that future economic growth must be aligned with environmental protection and tackling climate change. As other members have said, taking a business-as-usual approach is no longer viable.
Will the member take an intervention?
I am sorry, Mr Wightman—I have only four minutes, and I have quite a lot to cover.
Scotland has made significant progress. Emissions have gone down by 49 per cent in the past 30 years, but progress has been mixed across sectors, and more robust action is required to deliver the transition. Whether we call the transition delivery mechanism a new green deal or otherwise, the transition to a carbon-neutral economy will require a whole-of-Government approach. It will require investment on an unprecedented scale, a fundamental review of the skills and training that are necessary for the future workforce, a balance to be struck between energy security and energy costs, and the transition to be delivered in a structured, co-ordinated and just manner, so that no one is left behind.
The reality is that a number of delivery mechanisms are already in place that can help to achieve those outcomes. The UK Government’s industrial strategy has made clean growth a central part of its sustainable economic policy. It provides the massive scale of investment that is required to support the transition, with £37 billion of investment available to promote sustainable economic growth. It includes £2.5 billion for investing in low-carbon innovation, the announcement of a new offshore wind sector deal and plans to make the UK the global leader in green finance to support clean growth.
As a result of that strategy, the UK’s low-carbon economy is expected to grow by 11 per cent each year in the next decade. We want Scotland to benefit from that low-carbon growth, which is why we have repeatedly called on the Scottish Government to work closely with the UK Government to make sure that Scottish business can capitalise on those low-carbon opportunities.
The Scottish Government can progress the transition by introducing a dedicated circular economy strategy for Scotland. In his opening remarks, Maurice Golden referred to an ambitious programme that could create 40,000 jobs if the Scottish Government were to embed such an approach in all its portfolio areas. Such a programme would include the creation of new institutions such as an institute of reuse and microplastic recycling facilities and the promotion of best practice across Scotland. We therefore encourage the Scottish Government to follow our policy recommendations in that area.
Another delivery mechanism that members have mentioned is the Scottish national investment bank. We agree in principle that the bank should be focused on transition, but every proposed project must be evidence based to ensure that it is viable and sustainable. We cannot repeat the mistakes of the recent past, when £40 million of taxpayers’ money was lost on failed investments such as Pelamis and Aquamarine Power; that cannot be the focus of the bank.
Finally, the Scottish Government’s own climate change plans must play an important part in transition, but the plans must address concerns that were raised by witnesses to the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee. They cannot simply be wishful thinking and must be backed by credible policies, resources and more specific targets.
All those policy platforms can help achieve a carbon-neutral Scotland, but any policy in this area will have to be prioritised and implemented through a whole-of-Government approach. Unfortunately, as we heard earlier from the First Minister, the priorities of this Scottish Government are focused elsewhere, not on climate change, sustainable economic growth or training the workforce of the future.
I support Maurice Golden’s amendment.17:52
In this debate, we have covered many of the opportunities offered by the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. In addition to tackling climate change, Scotland’s ambition to drive down emissions can help us achieve social and economic gains such as increasing investment, creating employment and tackling inequality, and we will want to continue this debate in the weeks and months ahead with a focus not only on the challenges but very much on the opportunities that such a move presents to Scotland.
The issues that we have been discussing are not new, and we should acknowledge the significant progress and achievements that have already been made. Scotland has a well-deserved reputation for recognising and tackling climate change issues and demonstrating a proactive approach to innovation in the green economy. The Scottish Government has provided significant investment to businesses, communities and the public sector through our suite of low-carbon support programmes, which include our low-carbon infrastructure transition programme as well as our community and renewable energy scheme.
In my time as minister, I have been fortunate to visit many overseas countries, including Ireland, Norway and Denmark, and everywhere I go, Scotland is seen and recognised as a world leader in renewable energy innovation and adoption. Provisional figures show that, in 2018, the equivalent of almost 75 per cent of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption came from renewable sources, an increase from 70 per cent the year earlier. It was another record year. Moreover, in the past year, over £18.5 million in community benefits has been paid by the renewable energy sector to local communities across Scotland. That money has been transformational for some communities, allowing them to support a number of social and economic projects.
Scotland is already a global leader in floating offshore wind, with the world’s first floating wind farm—Hywind Scotland—located off Peterhead. Indeed, on Richard Leonard’s comment about the evils of FDI, I would just point out that Equinor put the money into getting the Hywind project up and running, and the value of that kind of investment needs to be recognised. Not only are we investing Government money in this, but we are making investments with others that have the technology that can make Scotland’s renewable energy sector all that it can be.
Will the minister take an intervention?
I do not have time, unfortunately.
We are committed to maximising the offshore wind sector in Scotland. At the start of May, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, Derek Mackay, will co-host an offshore wind summit with the UK Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry.
Decommissioning presents another distinct and clear opportunity for innovation, growth and economic development. The Scottish Government wants to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to allow the world-class Scottish supply chain to continue to develop competitive capabilities. Our work through the decommissioning challenge fund is providing direct support to the supply chain to ready it for the opportunities in decommissioning, thereby creating growth and employment. As Mark Ruskell should know, the Oil & Gas Technology Centre is focused additionally on renewables and is a key part of the transition. I suggest that he visits the centre in Aberdeen, as I have done, to understand what it is engaged in.
The circular economy is also a priority. Yesterday, I visited MacRebur in Lockerbie and was impressed with its innovative technology, which involves using recycled plastics to manufacture roads. Creating the conditions for a successful and powerful circular economy means making it easy for businesses such as MacRebur to develop and roll out their technologies in Scotland and across the world.
Maurice Golden talked about the great number of 400,000 low-carbon and renewable jobs across the UK and how much of a success that is. He will therefore recognise that the 46,000 low-carbon and renewable jobs in Scotland, which represents a significantly higher percentage of the population than the figures in the rest of the UK, are also an achievement of the Scottish Government.
The Scottish national investment bank has the potential to transform Scotland’s economy by providing capital for businesses at all stages in their investment life cycle and for important infrastructure projects to catalyse private sector investment. The bill that will create the bank was introduced in February and will support the establishment of the bank in 2020. The bank will take a mission-based approach to investment, with Scottish ministers setting the strategic direction. That approach will help to create and shape future markets, support innovation and tackle socioeconomic challenges.
As the First Minister set out in her speech to the STUC, supporting the transition to a carbon-neutral society will be a key mission for the bank. That recognises the important role that the bank has to play in supporting future low-carbon and carbon-neutral industries and infrastructure, and in financing improvements to existing industries. We welcome the consideration of the bill, which is now under way, and we will carefully consider proposals for improvements to it. Where changes can be made to ensure that the bank is better able to meet the ambitions that have been set for it, we will work with partners across the chamber and beyond to deliver those.
With our natural and human resources and our political will, Scotland is well placed to not only lead the way globally on carbon neutrality but develop the industries and innovations that will help to shape that future. We can do that to the best of our ability with the limited powers that we have, but we should recognise that, to invest to the level required, we will need control of all the economic levers in Scotland, which can come only with the full powers of independence.
I ask members to keep their conversations down, as some members were struggling to hear Mr McKee speak.17:57
I thank everyone who has spoken in the debate. I welcome the broadly constructive and positive tone that nearly all members have adopted. Despite differences in approach, it is clear that the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and the Greens share elements of the ambition, even if we perhaps disagree on some matters to do with urgency and emphasis.
A green new deal is not, as the SNP amendment claims, just a policy or a different set of interventions; it is a mission-driven, time-constrained and ambitious new economic paradigm. The mission is outlined in our motion, which also sets out the timescale as well as core elements of the means, such as making the agenda the object of the Scottish national investment bank. Although the minister, Mr McKee, said that he would listen carefully, he did not say anything in response to Patrick Harvie’s invitation to follow up the commitment that the First Minister made at the STUC conference by ensuring that the Scottish National Investment Bank Bill incorporates climate issues in the bank’s mission.
Shortly, I will reflect on contributions from members, but I first want to highlight a discussion that took place yesterday in the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee, which Richard Leonard referred to. We convened a round-table meeting to discuss recent events relating to BiFab, as well as wider questions around the offshore supply chain and what the future holds.
Clearly, offshore, onshore and, indeed, all renewables play a key part in and are the core of any green new deal, but policy decisions have been made historically at UK level that have meant that we have missed much of the opportunity to become the world leader in offshore technology, wind technology and renewable technology in general.
Therefore, I recognise the disappointment that is expressed in the STUC report to which the Labour amendment refers, about the opportunities that we have missed to develop a stronger local economy around offshore. However, although we have missed opportunities, the key is how we move forward.
Willie Rennie, too, outlined the broken promises that Government has made on renewables.
Yesterday, we heard from the chair of BiFab and the chair of D F Barnes about their alleged difficulties in securing a contract for the Kincardine and Moray East wind farms, when a state-owned entity—a Spanish state-owned shipbuilder—undercut them with a 35 per cent-loss-making bid.
That raised questions about state aid rules. The fact that other countries have, through state action on investment and procurement, supported the development of renewable technology and, thus, the economic benefits for workers and communities was also highlighted.
We need a much more joined-up approach in procurement and in the supply chain and between the Crown Estate, for example, which owns the sea bed and grants leases, Marine Scotland, which provides planning and licences, and the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which provides contracts for difference.
A green new deal means learning from the mistakes of the past to move forward.
There has not been much discussion of finance in the debate. Billions of pounds were made available through quantitative easing following the financial crash, which did nothing to transform the economy and only enriched asset holders. Pension funds around the world are investing: a Canadian pension fund is investing in shopping malls in Edinburgh, for consumption by the masses. We should be securing disinvestment in fossil fuels and greater investment in renewables by pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, as well as through crowd funding.
We should also secure investment through state-owned companies. Claudia Beamish and Lewis Macdonald mentioned Sweden’s Vattenfall, a wholly owned state company, which operates the European offshore wind deployment centre.
The cabinet secretary talked about joined-up policy, and she is right about that. We welcome the just transition commission, but it must be aligned with the infrastructure commission for Scotland, the energy strategy and, most important, Scotland’s economic strategy. The cabinet secretary hinted at that.
Maurice Golden accused us of “extreme socialism”. I am not really sure what that is, but it has nothing to do with the green new deal. I do not think that even Richard Leonard is an advocate of “extreme socialism”; he told us this afternoon that he wants the whole economy to be a social economy, and we agree with him. If our economy is to become a social economy, we need to repurpose and redesign it; it cannot be done within the paradigm of neoliberal economics. We agree with Richard Leonard on that.
My colleague Mark Ruskell highlighted the potential of publicly owned energy companies and the Scottish national investment bank working together. It is not widely known—it was revealed in the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee yesterday—that the Scottish Government is a 28 per cent stakeholder in BiFab. It is also perhaps not widely known that the Methil yard is in public ownership; it is owned by Scottish Enterprise. Of course, none of that is unusual—I just mentioned Sweden and Vattenfall.
Lewis Macdonald and Ivan McKee claimed that the Oil & Gas Technology Centre serves all sectors. I have the company’s objects here.
Will the member take an intervention?
Object 1 is to be
“Recognised as one of the top three centres globally for innovation and technology development and deployment for the oil and gas industry.”
Object 2 is to be
“Recognised worldwide as a leading oil and gas hub with particular focus on subsea production, mature basin asset management, maximising economic recovery and ensuring decommissioning excellence.”
I will take an intervention from Lewis Macdonald.
I am sorry, Mr Wightman, but there is no time for interventions at this point.
I am sorry about that.
We are at an important moment in history, and a number of members talked about the imperatives of the climate crisis. Rapid changes are unsettling, which is why I agree with the many members who said that a green new deal is imperative. However, we need to bring everyone with us. This is a deal, a contract, an understanding and a commitment that we are all in this together to create a pathway to a clean, green and peaceful future.
The time has come for a green new deal for Scotland. I commend the motion to the Parliament.