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Scotland’s leading businesses and organisations unite under shared manifesto for clean growth

Scottish Council for Development and Industry chief executive Sara Thiam.
Scottish Council for Development and Industry chief executive Sara Thiam.

A new “Manifesto for Clean Growth” unites public, private and third sector partners in a shared mission to identify the economic opportunities a net-zero future offers the Scottish economy.

It was created by 16 businesses and organisations, including BP, Shell UK, Oil and Gas UK (OGUK), OGTC (formerly the Oil and Gas Technology Centre) and Scottish Enterprise, drawn from different sectors and geographies, and in consultation with multiple “stakeholders”.

Launching the 74-page document yesterday, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) said it “expands on the findings” of an interim report, Building Scotland’s Green Recovery, which showcased 12 “big ideas” in response to climate change and the Covid-19 crisis.

Highlighting opportunities for innovation to underpin Scotland’s transition to net-zero, the new report recommends actions in seven key areas – industry, energy, connectivity, place, people, finance and nature.

It says investment in biotechnology innovation, including the transformation of Grangemouth into a biorefinery, will help create new jobs and decarbonise fuels for heating, transport and industry.

Boosting investment in hydrogen as a cleaner energy source will help to further reduce the country’s need for fossil fuels, it adds.

The report also calls for pilots for “20-minute neighbourhoods”, where people can meet their daily needs – such as public services,

workplaces, education, green spaces, shops and other key amenities – within a relatively short walk.

In addition, the document calls for new building standards demanding ultra-energy efficient design and low carbon heating.

Other proposals include a “national service” scheme to promote net-zero job and volunteering opportunities and “a new system of farm support for sustainable agriculture”.

SCDI chief executive Sara Thiam said: “Our vision is for Scotland to be a world leader in clean growth, which delivers for people, for our economy and for our planet.

“This report sets out a positive plan for action for Scotland, one that all sectors and geographies can get behind.

“We firmly believe these recommendations will create a cleaner, greener Scotland, which is fit for the future, not just in the aftermath of the global pandemic but for decades to come.”

OGUK sustainability director Mike Tholen added: “This report shows how Scotland’s changing oil and gas industry can help meet our climate ambitions, while also using our essential expertise to secure the exciting new energy jobs of the future.

“With government support and constructive partnerships across industry, we can make best use of our home-grown talent, protect consumer affordability and support energy communities to adapt, thrive and capture new opportunities.”

The report will be followed by a clean growth and green economy events organised by SCDI. The first of these will take place next Monday and Tuesday, when SCDI’s national forum will explore how cotland can “support its businesses and achieve better outcomes for the economy, people and planet”.

SCDI said the “manifesto” recommendations would create jobs, boost productivity, back sustainable innovation and attract inward investment to help businesses, organisations, sectors and communities to “decarbonise and protect and restore nature”.

A spokesman for the business group acknowledged the proposal for “20-minute neighbourhoods” was fanciful for rural parts of Scotland.

He added: “We see that as primarily applying to urban communities, rather than rural communities.

“That’s also partly why we’re calling for pilots to be established across the country for proof of concept, to develop a potential model and learn lessons from best practice.

“It’s also why we’ve proposed recommendations around EV (electric vehicle) charging points and digital connectivity, which particularly recognise the need to tailor solutions to the distinct needs of rural communities.

“We’ve framed the question of delivering a just transition to net-zero around leaving no-one and no community behind.”

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