One of the architects of Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic has claimed “ideological zealots” in the green movement risk wrecking the economy, as ministers pledged to do more business with Scottish firms. Benny Higgins, chairman of Nicola Sturgeon’s advisory group on economic recovery, published a series of recommendations in June aimed at helping the country avoid an “unemployment tsunami” sparked by the pandemic. The Scottish government yesterday endorsed many of the proposed measures, including investing £50 million to support youth employment and making it easier for smaller firms to compete for public sector contracts. Mr Higgins, a financial advisor and former boss of Tesco Bank, said he was encouraged that the “flightpath to recovery” had been broadly accepted. “The grand challenge for the Scottish government is to achieve both robust economic growth and job creation, alongside ensuring the economy is based on tackling fairness, inclusion and sustainability,” he said.
Times 5th Aug 2020 read more »
Scotland needs a solid ‘greenprint’ for economic recovery – Elizabeth Leighton. This week the Scottish Government publishes its ‘blueprint’ for Scotland’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, stating that “everything we’re doing, whether it be on skills, business support, investment, is focused on sustainability and ensuring a just transition to net zero by 2045”. The ‘Economic Implementation Plan’ accepts all 25 recommendations from the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery. The Climate Emergency Response Group (CERG) couldn’t agree more – the economic case for green recovery policies has never been stronger with ‘shovel ready’ projects that will protect and create jobs all over Scotland, and opportunities to grow new skills and enterprises for those hardest hit by the current crisis. For us, it is the only route to reach the Scottish Government’s ambition for a well-being economy – resilient, healthy and low carbon. Decisions taken now and over the next few months will shape our economy for the next decade – either putting us firmly on track to meet our climate targets or locking us into a fossil fuel economy at great cost and risk to society. In July, CERG published the report, Eight policy packages for Scotland’s Green Recovery. It contains a set of practical, realistic solutions that the Scottish Government can implement now in order to move Scotland towards a net-zero economy, while recovering from the Covid-19 crisis. Some of these ideas appear in the implementation plan, though with limited detail on the ‘how to’ deliver on the ground. The plan suggests that detail will come in the Programme for Government – so what should it contain to give us confidence in the government’s desire to ‘rebuild better’ – and to do so with urgency? Here are some of the steps that can be taken immediately. Some of these measures are also recommended by the Just Transition Commission in its recent report on the green recovery. We need to make cities and towns more liveable and resilient – with space for physical distancing in pedestrian areas and cycle lanes faster, reliable and zero emission buses with dedicated bus lanes; and a Community Health and Wealth Fund to help local authorities design big low carbon projects – district heating, active travel, EV charging – attracting private investment and creating a steady pipeline of construction jobs. We can retrofit our leaky and energy-wasting buildings all over Scotland by immediately doubling existing fuel poverty and energy efficiency programmes which already have large numbers of clients waiting in the queue. Financial support and advice should also be ramped up to encourage homeowners and businesses to switch to clean, modern, renewable heat, at the same time maximising opportunities for manufacture and installation.
Scotsman 7th Aug 2020 read more »