Ministers urged to work together on ‘green sea’ plan
Decommissioning is a key platform for energy policy
The Scottish and UK governments have been urged to put on a show of unity to create a green energy policy for the North Sea ahead of the COP26 climate conference later this year.
A new report says Scotland can turn the North Sea into a “Green Sea” and create thousands of jobs as long as Westminster and Holyrood agree to work together on a clear path of action.
The paper, entitled Invest Now: Lead the World Tomorrow – the Transformation of the North Sea into a Green Sea focuses on decarbonising oil and gas activity, decommissioning, hydrogen – the next renewables ‘big bet’ – and carbon capture.
The report says the Scottish and UK Governments should agree a joint strategy which sets out ambitious and clear targets for investment and renewables.
It concludes that, with the UN Climate Change Conference due in Glasgow this November, Scotland has a huge opportunity “to show our true green leadership”.
ScotlandCan is a new campaign set up by the Our Scottish Future think-tank with the aim of promoting the radical and ambitious action that can be taken now, under devolution. It has made environmental action one of its key priorities.
Former Scottish Conservative party communications officer Eddie Barnes, now project manager for ScotlandCan, said: “The opportunities that lie ahead for Scotland in the new green economy are huge. Scotland can be a world leader and show other countries the way in transitioning from a fossil fuel economy to a cleaner future.”
The report calling for greater collaboration was published as a new potential spat emerged between London and Edinburgh over creating new tax efficient ports in Scotland.
Trade Minister Ivan McKee, who originally dismissed the UK government’s plan for freeports, has now called on Westminster to ensure Scotland’s own version – green ports – have access to the same level of set-up funding as freeports in England.
The green port model will adapt the UK government’s freeport proposals, offering a package of tax and customs reliefs. Operators and beneficiaries will be required to commit to adopting Fair Work First criteria and contribute to Scotland’s just transition to net zero.
In a letter to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay, Mr McKee also called for two green ports focused on fair and sustainable economic development to be established in Scotland.
Mr McKee said: “I want to ensure that green ports – embedded within their communities – build on Scotland’s reputation as a dynamic, outward facing nation and become exemplars of inclusive growth, wellbeing and sustainability.
“Businesses in Scotland firmly believe that green ports should be supported with access to the same level of seed funding offered to freeports in England, and I agree.
“It is important the UK Government supports the development of these ports equitably across the UK, not least to demonstrate commitment to the economic development model we have agreed and are pursuing here in Scotland.
“With Scotland’s land mass comprising one third of the entire British mainland, it would be fair and proportionate to accommodate the establishment of two green ports in Scotland.
“I have met a range of stakeholders and note their shared commitment to the importance of ensuring green ports fit within the Scottish context and of the need for there to be more than one.”