Scotland's 'just transition' just suffered a huge blow. Politicians need to wake up – Scotsman comment
Last year Scottish trade minister Ivan McKee visited SGL Carbon in Muir of Ord, west of Inverness, and declared it to be “a prime example” of inward investment in Scotland’s regions. Yesterday the Germany-based firm announced 80 job losses, blaming a decline in demand for carbon fibre used to make wind turbines.
This prompted GMB Scotland organiser Lesley-Anne MacAskill to warn that the company was now a “prime example of what is going wrong” with Scotland’s efforts to create a “just transition” – a major renewable energy industry that can effectively replace jobs set to be lost in North Sea oil and gas. The redundancies “should shame politicians who continue to talk about just transition while failing to protect jobs and communities with practical, effective support and investment”, she added, saying there was “no transition, just or otherwise”.
With Rishi Sunak living in denial about the global economy’s direction of travel – from fossil fuels to low-carbon electricity – Keir Starmer dramatically scaling back Labour’s plan to invest £28 billion a year in green initiatives, and the SNP with their heads in the independence clouds, the danger is that a major economic opportunity is slipping through our fingers.
To be fair to Humza Yousaf, he recently announced that up to £500 million would be made available over five years to encourage private investment in the renewables supply chain. “It is essential that we work together to deliver a net-zero economy and do so in a fair and just way,” he said.
However, with the US and EU both pouring hundreds of billions of pounds into the sector, Scotland and the UK could be left behind, forced to buy turbines and other renewable technology from abroad, rather than exporting them. Many turbines off our coasts were made overseas, but offshore wind could still be an industrial growth area.
The oil and gas industry will not disappear entirely in the next few decades, but is likely to be substantially reduced. Renewables represent an opportunity to create a replacement source of well-paid jobs and tax revenues. If we fail to do so, Scotland’s economic future looks bleak.
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