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Hopes fade of green opportunities for factories

Paul Sheerin
Paul Sheerin: sticking to clear commitments is essential (pic: Terry Murden)

Hopes are fading that Scotland’s manufacturing sector could benefit from the opportunities to tackle climate change.

As COP28 gets under way in Dubai, a survey of Scottish factory leaders reveals that firms are no longer as confident in the notion of a green dividend as they were a year ago.

In just twelve months, the ratio of companies that see an opportunity to address climate change has fallen by a couple of percentage points.

Likewise, the number of companies pursuing operational or product/service design changes to support reduced climate impact has fallen by 7% and 5% respectively.

Scottish Engineering, the trade body that conducted the survey, says parallels can be drawn between the UK government’s “flip-flopping” approach to climate actions in the last year, and the resulting dip in commitment from Scotland’s engineering sector.

Changes to the timing of the phasing-out of gas boilers as well as petrol and diesel engines, have “added to the lack of conviction that today’s commitments will be tomorrow’s plan, arguably furthering our industry’s falling confidence.”

Scottish Engineering chief executive, Paul Sheerin, added: “Scotland and the UK have a great opportunity to get out of the economic doldrums for its manufacturing and engineering industries by embracing – and supporting – the opportunity that infrastructure for climate actions presents.

“Setting clear and consistent commitments – and then sticking to them – is essential to enable the long-term planning for investment that will be enabled by that.”

Scottish Engineering’s downbeat assessment of green opportunities contrasts with a report this morning from Skills Development Scotland claiming that up to £90 billion of investment in green industries is coming to Scotland from projects starting in the next three years and continuing over the next decade, with most of the money being spent in energy transition, transport and construction.

SNP MSP for Glasgow Provan Ivan McKee said: “Today’s report reveals the real transformation happening in Scotland, with huge advancements in vital infrastructure and adaptation of our workforce to facilitate a just transition to net zero.

“This is a hugely significant investment in Scotland’s green energy future. The continued growth in public and private backing for a just transition has been nothing short of astonishing and is yet further evidence of what is possible under an SNP Government that stands firm in its resolve to tackle climate change, unlike the Tory government at Westminster.”

Scottish Engineering’s latest quarterly survey shows an overall flat position compared to the September review, with export orders returning to positive, UK orders showing a mild improvement whilst remaining negative, and output volume holding steady.

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