Offshore wind farm

UK’s green industrial revolution plan ’10 times too unambitious’

Unions have criticised the UK government’s plans for a “green industrial revolution” as severely lacking ambition in scale and urgency.

Dave Moxham, deputy general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, criticised the scale of the UK-wide plans while giving evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee this week. He described the government’s climate plan as “10 times too unambitious”.

The plan, which was published in November 2020, lays out 10 points to support a “green industrial revolution” in the UK. It aims to expand sectors such as hydrogen, offshore wind, EVs, and carbon capture and storage technology through the mobilisation of £12bn in funding. However, the Labour Party at the time noted that just £4bn of the proposed money was actually new and that the funding does not “remotely” meet the scale of what is necessary to tackle climate change and unemployment.

“I’m just going to stick it out there; it’s 10 times too unambitious,” Moxham said. “We have put forward research from Transition Economics that suggests that sort of level of investment would do for Scotland alone. We don’t apologise for that level of ambition. We would like to see it 10 times as ambitious.”

Questioned about the 'Build Back Better' scheme to support economic growth post-pandemic, Moxham doubled down on his argument that the plan is an order of magnitude too unambitious: “If you read the argumentation for these kinds of projects and government investments, they make all the right noises in terms of what the effect of that investment is […] they employ Keynesian arguments, but they don’t do the logic of that, which is: spend 10 times as much. And I really mean 10 times as much.”

Bob MacGregor, national officer for Unite the Union, said any related contracts must deliver UK-based jobs.

“We’re looking for investment in infrastructure and not importing it: make it here, build it here, use it here,” he said, according to a PA News report. “The opportunities are massive if the investment is put into the renewable sector. Any public money being spent, there needs to be conditions that the majority of it is constructed in the UK.

“These companies are getting these contracts, making them halfway round the world, and floating them around on these big ships, damaging the planet, when we should have the supply chain in the UK. At the end of the day, it’s the public that are buying the electricity that are paying for these projects. It’s the future cost of electricity that’s making these projects get done.

“The public are paying for it, the public should benefit from it with jobs, good quality jobs in the UK, on the shores of Scotland, because we will be staring off our shorelines looking at these wind projects for the rest of our lives.”

Meanwhile, the Office for Budget Responsibility has warned that the UK faces the triple threat of Covid, climate change and ballooning debt. It cautioned that delayed climate action could lead to a three per cent additional impact on GDP. Under its baseline scenario of early decarbonisation action, the impact on the UK’s “debt mountain” would be less severe than the pandemic, adding 21 per cent (£469bn) of GDP to net debt by 2050-51; under the worst possible conditions (no decarbonisation action), UK debt would reach 289 per cent of GDP by the end of 2100.

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