Workers and employers could both benefit from the drive to a low carbon economy, but if that is to happen, we need to act now, says Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Cathy said that the choice was not whether we moved to a low carbon economy, but whether Scotland seized the initiative and made the most of the opportunities – or was dragged there as a prisoner of forces beyond its control.
“Our carbon greed is simply not sustainable. Sadly, we have been slow to adopt the proactive policies and programmes that we need to keep us at the forefront of progress towards a low-carbon economy. Since the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 was passed, there has been a history of missed opportunities. Words are not enough. We need lots of action and we need it now.”
Cathy, who is deputy convener of the Transport Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee and Labour’s Scottish Parliamentary spokesperson on Climate Change, called for action
- to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles, by setting up a network of charging points;
- to provide better public transport and to shift freight off roads and on to rail and sea;
- to retain and develop construction skills for low-carbon buildings;
- to protect and extend energy efficiency and waste reduction programmes; and,
- to support renewable heat schemes.
Speaking about the expansion of “green jobs” she said:
“Green jobs go beyond renewables and the low-carbon industry. We need to make other jobs and existing enterprises more green. Making jobs greener can have an impact on where and how we work. People can work from home, hot desk in local offices and travel avoiding rush hours and congestion. That can be a win-win situation, in which employee and employer benefit and carbon emissions are reduced. Public bodies have a duty to consider what they can do to contribute. They should look at the organisations that they deal with and make low-carbon action and training provision part of the procurement process.
“More could be done to encourage people to purchase local fruit and vegetables that are in season. We need to ensure that local goods are not transported to the local shop via a depot that is hundreds of miles away. We must build the level of awareness, understanding and involvement that is needed to move us rapidly and successfully towards a low-carbon future.”
Calling for a better public engagement strategy, Cathy said that change would not be easy, “but it will not happen unless we decide on and prioritise action to make it happen. The Scottish Government needs to set an example, grasp the thistle and get on with it.”