Plans for a national investment bank could transform Scotland’s economy and create thousands of green jobs, campaigners have said.
Friends Of The Earth Scotland, the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) and economists have united to urge the Scottish Government to use the opportunity to invest heavily in a low-carbon economy.
Ministers have announced a public consultation on the proposed investment bank, first unveiled in First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s programme for government in September.
Richard Dixon, director of Friends Of The Earth Scotland, said the development of the bank should be closely aligned with plans for a state-owned energy company in Scotland and the establishment of the government’s new Just Transition Commission.
He said: “The new Scottish national investment bank could work to help fund the investment that moves us to a low carbon economy.
“If the bank develops the right remit, it could create thousands of green jobs by transforming our transport, heating, housing and electricity.
“By working closely with the recently unveiled Just Transition Commission and government-owned energy company they can deliver a joined up economic strategy that puts tackling climate change at its heart.”
STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said: “It is also imperative that every investment made by the bank honours the principles of fair work and that the jobs developed are high quality, providing security, respect, and an effective voice for every worker.
“We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to ensure that the new bank functions effectively and to that end its governance should include representatives of trade unions and the environmental sector in order to ensure a just transition.”
The plans were also welcomed by economists Lord Adair Turner and Professor Mariana Mazzucato ahead of an event in Edinburgh organised by the environmental charity and the STUC.
Ms Mazzucato, a member of Scotland’s Council of Economic Advisers, said the decision to set up an investment bank “shows that the Scottish Government is looking seriously at ways to increase flows of investment and to direct them to support key public policies like reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing productivity and building an inclusive economy”.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The First Minister has made clear that the transition to a low carbon economy presents important economic opportunities for our country, which has a strong track record on research and innovation, as well as outstanding sources of renewable energy.
“Benny Higgins has been appointed to develop an implementation plan, and a consultation is under way seeking views on how the bank can best support Scotland’s economy and work for the benefit of the people of Scotland.
“We welcome the support of Lord Turner and Professor Mazzucato and look forward to working with a variety of stakeholders as proposals are developed.”