STUC Low Carbon Report: Supply Chain Strategy Placing Scottish Renewables in Bondage

June 12th 2020

STUC Low Carbon Report: Supply Chain Strategy Placing Scottish Renewables in Bondage

June 12th 2020

The Scottish Government's current low carbon and renewable energy strategy is binding Scotland’s resources, workers, and industry to overseas and private interests, according to the Scottish Trades Union Congress.

An STUC report on the low carbon economy analyses jobs figures and business activity to expose the ways that Scotland is starved of investment in renewables jobs and supply chains, even as the sector expands faster than ever before. It warns that the current supply chain strategy would bind Scotland into a trade deficit and dependency on foreign corporate control.

The report warns the Scottish Government to create an industrial base in the low carbon economy or face workers and communities abandoning faith in any concept of a Just Transition.

It comes as the Crown Estate launched an £8 billion leasing round that apparently puts no requirements on investors to invest in supply chains locally, or at a level that develops Scotland's industrial base and supports its workers and communities in Scotland.

Two 'Green Recovery' Futures

The report sets out two futures for a ‘green recovery’ from the COVID-19 crisis. In the first, supply chains and industrial development are left to the market, resulting in flatlining Scottish employment, a growing trade deficit, and the capture of Scotland’s resources by overseas and private interests.

In the second, Scotland’s resources are held in common, with public and domestic companies free to borrow and invest in Scottish supply chains and good quality jobs, and corporations and government are held to account by workers and communities.

Falling offshore wind jobs despite 250% capacity increase

The report highlights that employment has flatlined in the last four years, with jobs in offshore wind decreasing despite a 250% increase in offshore wind capacity. It sets out the elements of a jobs strategy to support domestic supply chains instead of making the sector dependent on imported goods made abroad in unacceptable working conditions, and risking exposing Scotland to economic shocks.

It finds that the lack of jobs is not due to a lack of business or a low turnover in renewables jobs, but is down to Scotland importing most of its technology and manufacturing work and the domination of its low carbon economy by overseas state-owned companies like French EDF and Chinese Red Rock, and private corporations like Iberdrola which owns Scottish Power. The report finds that the trade deficit in Scotland’s low-carbon economy increased from £141.5 million to £189.5 million between 2017 and 2018. It also highlights that half of the UK’s offshore wind is owned by overseas Governments and 42% by overseas companies.

It describes four cases where Scotland failed to create domestic employment, in EDF’s £2 billion offshore wind farm off the cost of Fife, at CS Wind in Machrihanish that was acquired by a South Korean manufacture on the false promise of jobs and is now idle, at a Scottish Power wind project where workers were ferried from overseas and worked under unsafe conditions, and at the £5.7 billion Seagreen project which has employed workers for less than the minimum wage and looks set to offshore manufacturing jobs overseas.

The report calls for future development in the sector to benefit workers and communities. It recommends ensuring Scotland’s Publicly Owned Energy Company invests in renewable generation through borrowing and investment, rather than simply competing with private suppliers. It recommends the creation of a National Infrastructure Company to support design, investment, and management of low-carbon infrastructure. And it calls for a moratorium on developments unless they deliver jobs locally, with a new focus on ensuring good quality jobs, training, and employment standards.

Roz Foyer, STUC General Secretary Designate, said:

“There are two ‘green recovery’ futures for Scotland and only one will create the industrial base and the good employment that Scotland needs to build the low carbon economy of the future. “There is no reason why the Scottish Government cannot place Scotland’s resources in common and put the transition to a renewable economy in Scotland’s hands.

“A Just Transition depends on liberating the supply chain from overseas and private control and a jobs and trade deficit that makes a mockery of the Scottish Government’s previous commitments. “In the short term, should developers not commit to providing jobs locally or fail to recognise unions, they should be prevented from benefiting from Scotland’s natural resources.”

“And in the long term, Scotland should have the national energy and national infrastructure companies to invest in a low carbon future that is not bound by the logic of plunder and profit.”

ENDS

For more information, please contact Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary, on 07891026870

Notes

The report can be downloaded here.

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