Scotland’s trade unions call for nationalisation of green energy schemes

Create jobs while protecting environment, say campaigners

 

Trade unions and green campaigners in Scotland are calling for more nationalisation of climate change and green energy projects to create jobs while protecting the environment.

A joint statement by Friends of the Earth Scotland and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said the Scottish government must take bolder steps in moving to a low-carbon economy, and support workers currently in sectors that rely on fossil fuels.

It comes ahead of a new energy strategy and climate change plan from the SNP government.

Today’s statement, which is backed by WWF Scotland and the Unite, Unison, PCS, UCATT, UCU and CWU unions, said current plans were ‘not ambitious enough’ and progress has been slow outside of onshore windfarms:

“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.”

It said the government should lead on transforming ‘electricity generation, energy storage, transport infrastructure, energy efficiency and sustainable heating for homes and businesses’, adding:

“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.”

Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“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.”

STUC assistant general secretary Stephen Boyd said ‘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’, but called for ‘a more active and interventionist approach’.

A spokesman for the Scottish government, responding to the statement, said it has already met its 2020 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent, six years early.

He said a Climate Change Bill with a new post-Paris Agreement target will be up for consultation in 2017, and half a billion pounds is earmarked for tackling fuel poverty over the next four years. He added:

“In the new year we will publish a draft Energy Strategy for consultation, alongside our draft Climate Change Plan, which will outline a long-term vision for the future of the energy system in Scotland up to 2050.”

See: Caroline Lucas: It’s time to kick fossil fuels out of UK politics

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