A MAJOR conference in Edinburgh will hear from two leading economists today on how investing in large scale green projects could transform Scotland’s economy and create thousands of green jobs.
Lord Adair Turner and Professor Mariana Mazzucato will welcome the Holyrood government’s recently unveiled move to create a Scottish National Investment Bank.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon opened a public consultation on Friday saying the move could help the Scottish Government ‘seize the economic opportunities of tackling climate change’.
Today’s event, ‘Building the Future: Investment for the Just Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy’ has been organised by Friends of the Earth Scotland, the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) and the Institute for New Economic Thinking.
Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and Director, Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, University College London (UCL). and a member of Scotland’s Council of Economic Advisors, will say the new bank can make “a real difference”.
She said: “I welcome strongly the decision to establish a Scottish National Investment Bank.
“It shows that the Scottish Government is looking seriously at ways to increase flows of investment and to direct them to support key public policies like reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing productivity and building an inclusive economy.
“There is a lot of experience from other countries of what works and what doesn’t and if we draw from that, the bank can make a real difference to Scotland’s economy.”
Lord Adair Turner, chair of the Energy Transitions Commission and the Institute for New Economic Thinking; and formerly chair of both the Financial Services Authority and UK Committee on Climate Change, was equally forthright.
He said: “All economies need to make an energy transition, to accelerate change towards low-carbon systems, and our Energy Transition Commission has looked at how to make that happen.
“It will need a joined-up public policy framework, and I am pleased to see that emerging in Scotland, and a big shift in patterns of investment.”.
The 2017/18 Programme for Government included announcements on the creation of Scottish National Investment Bank and a Just Transition Commission.
Nicola Sturgeon’s speech at the SNP conference revealed that Holyrood would establish a Government-owned energy company by 2021.
And Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said that could help put climate change at “the heart” of public policy.
He said: “The new Scottish National Investment Bank could work to help fund the investment that moves us to a low carbon economy.
“If the bank develops the right remit, it could create thousands of green jobs by transforming our transport, heating, housing and electricity.
“By working closely with the recently unveiled Just Transition Commission and government-owned energy company they can deliver a joined up economic strategy that puts tackling climate change at its heart.
“We look forward to opportunities to talk with the Scottish Government about how we make this bank fit for the future.
“It should be tied into plans for a just transition, and its governance needs to draw in voices from the workforce and the environmental sector”.
Event organisers STUC have urged the Government to plan for a transition to a low carbon economy in a way that is fair for workers and communities affected.
STUC General Secretary Grahame Smith said while he welcomed the chance to create new opportunities in the sector, it was vital to protect fossil fuel workers making the transition.
He said: “A Scottish Investment Bank should support the generation of good jobs and stimulate a new, green, industrial base for Scotland.
“It should be ambitious in its investment plans which, if wisely governed, could help transform our economy.
“We must remember however that workers currently in sectors reliant on fossil fuels must also be protected and meaningful support must be provided to help them redeploy to new sectors and take advantage of opportunities offered by the low carbon economy.
“It is also imperative that every investment made by the bank honours the principles of fair work and that the jobs developed are high quality, providing security, respect, and an effective voice for every worker.
“We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to ensure that the new bank functions effectively and to that end, its governance should include representatives of trade unions and the environmental sector in order ensure a just transition.”
The event takes place at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile from 7pm tonight.
Follow the hashtag #BuildingTheFuture
Want to learn more? Read: Consultation on the Scottish National Investment Bank