Renewables can power economy of an independent Scotland – Lorna Slater. This week I had the opportunity to introduce myself to voters by taking part in the BBC leaders’ debate. Of course, Anas Sarwar and Douglas Ross have led their parties for a shorter time than I have, and for all three of us it was our first leader’s debate. As I made clear in the debate, the Scottish Greens will work with any party to make a difference for the people of Scotland. By negotiating with the SNP on their budgets we won free bus travel for everyone 21 and under from this year, free school dinners for all primary kids and pandemic relief payments for half a million households worst hit by the pandemic. What worries me is that although the other party leaders in the debate recognised the urgency of the climate crisis, none of them recognised what needs to be done as a result. Douglas Ross even tried to claim that investing more money in oil and gas exploration was investing in net-zero. That is a completely farcical position. It’s never been more urgent to leave fossil fuels in the ground. It was particularly frustrating that we ran out of time before I could refute the ridiculous allegation that the Greens want to let down those who work in the North East, or that we would repeat what happened to BiFab in Fife. Nothing could be further from the truth. That oil and gas are finite resources is a fact, and that it must stay in the ground is essential to our survival. Workers need certainty and alternative jobs, not to be left on a sinking ship. Scotland has seen too often how communities are left behind when Government’s don’t invest in their future – look at Ravenscraig, the Fife mining communities, Silicone Glen and most recently when Longannet coal power station shut down. A survey of oil and gas workers by Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Greenpeace found that a transition is what they actually want, too, with as much as 82 per cent open to moving to a job outside of the oil and gas industry. This is the core weakness in the argument we’ve heard from the Tories, SNP, Lib Dems and Labour. They use the word transition without any willingness to transition the subsidies. It isn’t a ‘transition’ if you keep throwing money at a sunset industry until it closes. It doesn’t have to be like BiFab, where the SNP failed to keep jobs in Scotland. We need to see a government take a much greater stake in renewable energy, and invest directly in our future. While Nicola Sturgeon was right to point out in the debate that 97 per cent of our electricity came from renewables last year, Scotland’s potential is so much greater. Thanks in part to the sector I work in, tidal, Scotland has the potential to provide 25 per cent of Europe’s renewable energy. So it can do more than keep our lights on, it can be a major driver in the economy of an independent Scotland. This is what I mean by a triple win. We can recover from the pandemic by creating jobs, we can start the transition from oil and gas now to ensure we survive as a species, and we can create an economy that allows Scotland to flourish as an independent nation.
Scotsman 3rd April 2021 read more »