The Scottish Trade Union Congress and Friends of the Earth have today agreed to work together on industrial policies which can create a ‘just transition’ to a low-carbon economy for Scotland to save and/or create new jobs in the Scottish energy sector.
As the new Scottish Energy Strategy is being drafted, they will be pressing for bold measures which show that the Scottish Government is determined to make change happen.
In a joint statement – also supported also by WWF Scotland and the Unite, UNISON, PCS, UCATT, UCU and CWU trade unions – they share their concern that plans so far have been too slow and not ambitious enough.
Stephen Boyd, STUC Assistant General Secretary, commented: “The transition to a low-carbon economy – done the right way – has the potential to increase employment and create a more dynamic and resilient economy.
“However experience to date confirms that a more active and interventionist approach will be necessary to maximise economic and employment benefits”.
In an implicit challenge to the ways in which economic development has been governed in Scotland and the UK, the joint statement says that where necessary to secure change at sufficient pace and scale, options for public and community ownership or partial stakes in flagship projects and enterprises should be pursued; and that employment and social benefits should be secured through creation of local supply chains, community benefit clauses and local ownership.
The joint statement adds: “We share a concern that plans for this transition so far have not been ambitious enough and that progress has been slow except regarding on-shore wind.
“There has been little planning to ensure the protection of the people most affected – in particular those who work in sectors reliant on fossil fuels.
“It is necessary to confront the danger of losing a large part of the industrial base as employment in traditional sectors declines. Workers, if losing their job in these sectors, should be able to redeploy to new sectors and opportunities for retraining must be expanded.
“As the new Scottish Energy Strategy is being drafted we hope to see a pipeline of ambitious investment projects and the capacity to finance them put in place. Scotland has the opportunity to create an example which other nations might follow.
“However, fine words and targets are not sufficient on their own and experience to date shows that the growth of renewable energy generation does not necessarily result in the creation of new manufacturing and engineering capacity and employment in Scotland.
“Specific measures are needed to ensure that these benefits accrue.”
Dr Richard Dixon, Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland added: “We should be responding to climate change in ways which protect workers’ livelihoods, create a new industrial base and deliver a fairer Scotland as well as rapidly reduce our emissions.
“There will be hundreds of thousands of new jobs in a low-carbon economy.
“So far we have seen good growth in renewable electricity but progress on the transformation of other parts of our economy has been slow. The forthcoming climate change plan will be key. We need ambitious policies for de-carbonising transport and heating, for example, which will also provide decent jobs, cleaner streets and warmer homes.”
See: Scotland’s Renewable Future’s draft new Scottish Energy Strategy