Rural and Environment
UK Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution
Today I spoke to Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth Kwasi Kwarteng to discuss the UK Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
I welcome the proposed action on decarbonisation, not least because we have been calling for some time for movement in this direction – but we now need further clarity on how these commitments will be funded and what exactly they mean for jobs in Scotland.
It is encouraging that the UK Government is catching up with the forward looking position we have adopted to decarbonising transport in Scotland, when we set our own target for phasing out the need for new petrol and diesel vehicles over three years ago.
I also welcome the UK Government restating its intention to invest in Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) infrastructure. CCUS will play an important role in helping us to reach net-zero emissions, which is why we have provided funding to the Acorn project, considered to be the lowest cost and most advanced CCS project in the UK, to help it deliver on our ambition for it to be the first CCS project to be deployed anywhere in the UK.
But I am disappointed that we have not been more fully engaged in the development of key investments and commitments. The UK Committee on Climate Change has been clear that Scotland’s net-zero target is contingent on policy areas which currently remain reserved being fully utilised, and we still await decisive UK Government in a range of other areas. The majority of the fiscal levers for a green recovery remain reserved to the UK Government, and we call, once again for action to unlock decisions in Scotland to help us become a net zero economy. We also urgently call for clarity on the future of a UK Emissions Trading Scheme – something which can account for 28% of Scotland’s emission reduction but which the UK is failing to make progress on.
The upcoming Net Zero Review and Net Zero Strategy will be critical in clarifying the level of UK ambition. Greater collaboration on the upcoming Energy White Paper, Decarbonisation of the Transport Strategy, Heat in Buildings strategy and the Industrial Decarbonisation Plan is also needed, and I call on the UK Government to work more closely with devolved administrations to develop this vital work.
We have already taken significant steps to build Scotland’s Green Recovery. We recently announced a ground-breaking £1.6 billion investment to transform heat and energy efficiency of our buildings, together with an additional investment of £500m in our natural economy as part of a range of new measures to protect biodiversity, create green jobs and accelerate a just transition to net-zero as part of our green recovery.
We are working towards finalising our 2021/22 budget and Climate Change Plan update, which, together with the finalised Infrastructure Investment Plan, are being aligned to ensure maximum impact for the delivery of our green recovery, however the UK Government’s decision to delay the UK Budget once again is an unwelcome distraction when there are critical priorities to be funded, including our emission reduction and biodiversity commitments.
We do not believe there will be a future energy gap that only nuclear power can fill. Scotland has the resources and capacity to meet all of our electricity needs and would prefer to see the funding announced for nuclear projects going towards work that improves the ability of renewable generation, energy storage, and other truly safe and clean technologies to support a secure and resilient energy system.