It isn’t hard to find things to be grim about. Scotland is politically sclerotic, the pandemic just won’t go away, world leaders aren’t serious about climate change and few believe that another independence referendum is within sight. It amounts to a picture many find really depressing. But it will do no good to mope. There are plenty of things which are outside Scotland’s control but we should not lose sight of what we can achieve quickly if we turn our minds to it. Scotland has a wealth of amazing resources if only they could be set free, released from captivity to do their own thing. If we think about Scotland not top-down, but from these resources-upwards, we can see ways to turn Scotland around. The failure of Scotland to capture jobs from the renewable energy boom is a national disgrace. It is the result of letting our energy resources be held captive by a tiny number of overseas multinationals. How can Scotland become a leader in green technology if we are just a branch plant of a global energy business? So set our energy free – start a National Energy Company. Begin by taking control of Scotland’s existing energy resources by nationalising wind farms each time one comes to the end of its licensed operating period. In that way, within 25 years all of Scotland’s energy could be in public ownership at no cost to the public. But that’s not enough – it needs a proper national industrial strategy to make sure that any supply chain which can be delivered in Scotland is delivered in Scotland. It wouldn’t take that long to get those manufacturing plants off the ground if a National Energy Company was giving them contracts. And there is no better way to avoid the green-washing of Scotland’s hydrogen potential by oil giants than by taking the market away from them. The woeful rate of investment in marine energy in Scotland could be transformed if a National Energy Company took over. If done right, these moves would be a rapid ‘jobs engine’.
Commonweal 25th Nov 2021 read more »