Environmentalists are calling for an urgent and inclusive national debate on economic transformation after the Scottish Government’s new strategy failed to show how it will achieve its own vision of wellbeing and ensuring a just transition to a zero-carbon economy.

The National Strategy for Economic Transformation ‘Delivering Economic Prosperity’ was launched today by the Cabinet Secretary Kate Forbes. She was supported by her Advisory Council which has previously been criticised for its lack of environmental and social justice expertise.

It comes the day after the latest UN IPCC report gave a stark reminder of the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to transform economies away from fossil fuels to avert its worst impacts.

Commenting on the Strategy, Matthew Crighton, Sustainable Economy Adviser at Friends of the Earth Scotland said

“This economic strategy has environmental sustainability and wellbeing in its vision, which is welcome, but there is a lack of concrete ideas as to how its good intentions will be delivered. Everyone recognises the need to be greener and fairer but without any realistic plan to achieve these changes they will remain aspirational daydreams.

“To deliver a just transition to zero carbon, the government has to assess and secure the investments needed in each part of our economy. It then needs to set out expectations for job creation and social benefits, how to measure them and who will deliver them. Instead, it seems happy just to point the boat forwards and hope that the fickle winds of the market economy will blow it in the right direction.

“The focus on economic growth and entrepreneurship fails to show how this approach can deliver on these wider social and environmental benefits. Instead we have a repeat of lots of the tired old ideas that have helped bring us the current state of inequality, environmental breakdown and economic insecurity.

“The Scottish Government clearly hasn’t understood the roots of these problems nor recognised the mistakes of previous plans. Perhaps this is because it hasn’t spoken to either environmental experts nor to people at the sharp end of our current economic system.”

Ahead of the strategy launch, the ‘Transform Our Economy’ alliance produced Ten Points for a Transformative Economic Strategy against which to judge the Government’s plans. These ideas were backed by 40 academics and outline a new purpose at the heart of our economy: providing wellbeing for all within environmental limits.

Crighton continued:

“With our allies in the Transform Our Economy alliance, we prepared Ten Points to judge the new strategy, endorsed by 40 leading academics. Sadly the Scottish Government’s document gets poor marks against these, starting well with its overall vision but then failing, in particular on practical things like generating enough of the right investment streams, having clear tests for all finance and integrating new performance measures for decarbonisation and biodiversity into economic decisions.”


Notes to Editors

Scottish Governemnt’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation https://www.gov.scot/news/scotlands-national-strategy-for-economic-transformation/

The 10 Key Points outline a new purpose at the heart of our economy: providing wellbeing for all within environmental limits. They will require the government to set the trajectory for the economy and present a credible plan for delivery using all the powers at their disposal.

Campaigners call for greater public consultation on strategy to transform Scotland’s economy (Aug 2021)

SNP’s advisory group for net zero economy missing anyone with climate background (Aug 2021)

The Transform Our Economy alliance, comprises Scottish Environment LINK, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland. It is calling for much more extensive public debate about the direction of our economy and believes that participation from workers, affected communities and those who are in greatest need of economic transformation has been lacking.

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, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.