Climate change: Hydrogen and carbon-capture can play a key part in Scotland's transition to a green economy– Paul McLennan MSP

Amid the enormous challenges of the global pandemic, the twin crises of climate change and loss of biodiversity have not gone away – far from it.

In the past few months, here in Scotland, we have first-hand experienced the devastating consequences of our environmental damage through sweltering heat waves, followed by sudden flash flooding and monsoon-like rain.

Indeed, the recently published UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate report has made the imminent threat of global heating explicitly clear. Our use of fossil fuels is affecting every region on Earth and these changes are now beginning to become irreversible.

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It has never been clearer that we must take immediate steps to end Scotland’s contribution to climate change and we in the SNP remain absolutely committed to doing so by 2045, in a just and fair way. We believe this is fundamentally central to our recovery from this pandemic.

The Scottish Cluster Campaign brings together key stakeholders from across the Scottish economy to create a pathway towards decarbonisation of Scottish and UK industry. Reduction of industry emissions, as called for by the campaign, will aid Scotland in our net-zero targets, while creating and preserving jobs in industries which will struggle to decarbonise totally.

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With the Cop26 summit looming, I am of the firm belief that we need to unite communities, businesses and industries to deliver low-carbon technologies, carbon-capture, usage and storage, hydrogen and the deployment of carbon-removal technologies so Scotland can move forward towards our transition to a fairer, greener economy.

Hydrogen in particular presents Scotland with huge potential to become a world-leading centre for the hydrogen economy, decarbonising our energy system and creating thousands of jobs.

The St Fergus Gas Terminal is at the centre of the Acorn carbon-capture-and-storage project. (Picture: Shell)

Just as Scotland helped lead the world into the industrial age, we can now lead the transition to the decarbonised age. However, unlike the impact deindustrialisation had on many communities across Scotland, in this era of change, nobody can be left behind.

This means utilising, reskilling and further upskilling the already skilled and experienced workforce in industries like oil and gas to reduce carbon emissions, while also creating and sustaining jobs across the economy.

Repurposing Scotland’s existing infrastructure to quickly and cost-effectively enable industrial decarbonisation through projects such as the low-cost, low-risk, carbon-capture-and-storage (CCS) Project Acorn in Aberdeenshire will make a real difference to our carbon dioxide emissions, and will, equally importantly, create the opportunity for Scotland to accept carbon dioxide ‘imports’ from other parts of the UK and Europe.

Bold and ambitious change is required in every aspect of our lives if we are to safeguard the future of our people and planet.

Through CCS infrastructure and low-carbon hydrogen production, the Scottish cluster could remove up to nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year, decarbonising energy and industry in the process and ensuring the green recovery is felt throughout our communities.

As Scotland looks to reaffirm global leadership ahead of Cop26, I’m backing the Scottish Cluster to help decarbonise Scotland and the United Kingdom so that we build back greener and become a net-zero nation.

Paul McLennan is the SNP MSP for East Lothian and co-chair of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Renewables. He is writing in support of the Back the Scottish Cluster campaign, pressing the case for the Scottish Cluster in the BEIS cluster-sequencing process.

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