Climate change is the business opportunity of the century for Scotland – Scotsman comment

48 days to Cop26: History has not been kind to the Luddites. The workers who rose up to smash weaving machines that were ‘stealing’ their jobs in the early 1800s may attract sympathy, but we now know they were railing against the inevitable march of progress.

But then, the Luddites did not have the world’s scientists to explain why it was bound to happen. To them, the changes were simply wrong.

Fortunately, today’s smartest minds have given us a clear indication of the direction that the world must travel if it is to avoid dangerous climate change.

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The intellectual descendants of the Luddites are attempting to shrug this off and stick to the way things have long been done, while others have descended into fear with prophecies of doom rising in strength and number.

However, there is another group who can see the value of being able to see into the future.

For, hopefully sooner rather than later, the global economy is going to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and this means we know that the markets for the myriad of technologies required to get us to that point are going to grow dramatically.

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One of the last few fallacious arguments deployed by climate change deniers is that the UK produces too few carbon emissions to make a difference, an idea easily exposed as bogus with emissions per head of population far higher than the global average. But they are missing a key point.

Despite the construction of vast tidal turbines like these, it remains an under-used form of energy generation (Picture: Thomas Bregardis/AFP via Getty Images)

The UK once became the world’s leading power in large part because the coal-fired Industrial Revolution began here. A new industrial revolution powered by renewable energy is now upon us and transforming our economy swiftly is not simply about climate change, it is an economic necessity.

Scotland is battered by vast amounts of wind, wave and tidal energy, much of it untapped. It seems certain we will become a major exporter of electricity, but if we are quick enough off the mark in developing new and more efficient turbines to harness this energy, Scotland could see a return to the days when it was an industrial powerhouse.

Climate change poses a deadly threat, but it is also the business opportunity of the century. Future historians will see us as Luddites if we miss it.

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