The Chief Executive of the UK Committee on Climate Change today said that Ministers should attach green conditions to loan or grant finance to help companies with the recovery from coronavirus.

Chris Stark was giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee this morning about Green Recovery when he said,
”It is really important for Scottish Ministers and UK ministers to tie that environmental string to any support that they offer, be that loan or grant finance.”

Stark’s comments follow similar calls from the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, who also recommended that green conditions be attached to the support that companies receive, calling for “greater use of conditionality in business support” alongside other economic measures. Yet the recent Programme for Government fails to commit to setting conditions.

The French Government set climate conditions on airline Air France as part of its €7billion rescue package, including that the airline must reduce emissions from domestic flights by 50% by the end of 2024.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Climate and Energy Campaigner Caroline Rance said:

“Scotland must learn the lessons of the past and ensure that recovery funding and support for large companies comes with conditions to deliver positive change – to reduce emissions, support workers and deliver a just transition. No public money should be spent on polluting projects or companies that will increase the emissions that are worsening the climate emergency.

“The UK Committee on Climate Change is the Scottish Government’s statutory advisor on climate change, so the Government should consider how to implement these climate criteria when it comes to both bailing out companies and building a green recovery.

“All Scottish Government funding, investment and support must have strict conditions to reduce emissions in line with Scotland’s climate targets. By using recovery funding to support workers and companies who are serious about climate action we can help create the zero-carbon economy for the decades to come.”

“We see the worsening impacts of climate breakdown from devastating fires across Western US states to landslips in Scotland to floods in Sudan, there is no time to waste in creating the climate jobs that will help us reduce emissions and build a fairer economy.

“The recent Programme for Government is full of promises of action in the next term of Parliament. With a year of climate action largely lost to coronavirus and time running out to keep warming below 1.5C, we can’t afford to keep kicking the can down the road.”

Mr Stark also suggested that some of the commitments in the Programme for Government would not be part of an economic recovery for Scotland because they would not be implemented until the next Parliamentary session in May 2021.

ENDS


NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The UKCCC are official climate advisors to both the Scottish and UK Governments. https://www.theccc.org.uk/about/

2. View comments by Chris Stark at 09:19 & 09:36 https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/environment-climate-change-and-land-reform-committee-september-15-2020

Chris Stark on conditionality [09:19]
“What I would like to see is not that we make black and white decisions about which corporates to support and which not to support when the chips are down, because these are real companies employing real people and providing real important impacts to the Scottish Economy.

“What I would really like to see when it comes to the strings that we might attach to that is a plan for decarbonisation. Each industrial facility in Scotland needs to go on that journey and needs to be supported to go on that journey, and this is a really important for Scottish Ministers and UK ministers to tie that environmental string to any support that they offer, be that loan or grant finance. This is a really important moment to effect a bit of change that will help immensely in those industrial emissions.”

Chris Stark on the slow pace of action in Programme for Government [09:36 ]
“The key thing is three broad objectives… firstly programmes that can begin quickly, so when it comes to the economic recovery it needs to be something that happens over the next year to two years otherwise it’s not going to be physically part of the economic recovery effort. Again I’ll sign a kind of warning sign that some of the measures that were announced in the Programme for Government are not measures that are in that period, they’re over a longer period, over the next parliament for example. Now this is all worthwhile stuff but it is not strictly speaking about the recovery unless you see it quickly.”

3. The final report from the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery can be found at https://www.gov.scot/publications/towards-robust-resilient-wellbeing-economy-scotland-report-advisory-group-economic-recovery/

4. Free to use print quality photos of socially distanced protest by key workers outside Scottish Government HQ in Edinburgh (From June 2020). https://flic.kr/s/aHsmNZSeyv

5. Friends of the Earth Scotland have proposed a ten-point programme of activity to the Scottish Government that would help create tens of thousands of good green jobs while building a fairer society. Highlights of the plan include:

  • Kickstart a programme of public green job creation with investment in national green infrastructure projects, including in energy efficiency, sustainable transport and renewable heating.
  • No public money for fossil fuel developments (including Carbon Capture and Storage, and fossil-derived hydrogen)
  • Map the skills needed for the zero-carbon economy and begin funded, targeted training programmes to address the gaps
  • Shift government spending away from polluting projects – e.g. money away from roads expansion projects into broadband connectivity

https://foe.scot/10-steps-green-jobs-recovery/

6. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.