Why we must seize the opportunity of a green strategy
Representatives of Scotland’s world-class offshore industry gathered at the 50th Offshore Europe conference in Aberdeen recently to collaborate on accelerating the transition to a sustainable energy future.
They met at a time when the global competition for green investment and skills is escalating rapidly.
A year ago, US President Joe Biden signed the US Inflation Reduction Act. A $400bn package, this was not only the largest ever investment in action on climate change, it ushered in a new era of US industrial policy.
The EU countered with its Green Deal Industrial Plan, and countries are competing to maximise their share of the ‘wall’ of private capital available for net-zero investments and to build domestic supply chains.
Chris Stark, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, has talked about the next few months being a “completely critical…window” for attracting green investment and industry to the UK. Scotland and the UK have the industrial and research strengths to be global leaders in energy transition, but we will not win a subsidy race and must increase our competitiveness or risk losing out.
We have track records of leadership, but there is no question that greater urgency is now required.
Last month First Minister Humza Yousaf announced the development of a Scottish green industrial strategy by next summer to help realise economic opportunities for businesses, investors and workers. At Westminster, the Chancellor is expected to set out more on the UK Government’s plans in the Autumn Statement.
SCDI’s Manifesto for Clean Growth is a robust plan by cross-sector leaders on which to build. The manifesto sets out priorities for transforming industry, clean energy innovation, net-zero domestic connectivity, sustainable communities, a green skills revolution, closing the investment gap, and a nature-rich future. It also recommends that a green industrial strategy must be based on the principles of ambition, collaboration, integration, fairness, governance, pace and strategy.
Above all, joined-up policy-making is essential. We must remove the barriers to new infrastructure. We must anchor and leverage the energy supply chain and skills in Scotland, moving at pace to support a just transition, and avoid its relocation and an economic shock. And government and industry must invest in skills because recent reductions in government funding will not deliver a green skills revolution.
SCDI will work with both governments on actions to build a Scotland where globally critical net-zero solutions are brought into being, and which is a hub for green investment, industry, and trade. Now is the time to put purpose at the heart of Scottish business – the opportunity in a new green industrial strategy is to unlock the next 50 years of creating profitable solutions for people and the planet.