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Brexit ‘delays net-zero goal’, warns SNP minister

© Supplied by JMC Communications Scotlandbrexit net zero
ALL AT SEA: Access to suitable labour is hindering green projects, Mr Matheson claimed.

Brexit is undermining the battle against the climate emergency, a senior SNP government minister warned.

Michael Matheson claimed it is more difficult accessing labour needed for Scotland to transition to green energy.

He made the comments to MSPs at Holyrood where he also warned a huge change in people’s behaviour is needed if Scotland is to meet its net-zero targets.

“In the renewables sector, access to labour is becoming increasingly challenging, principally because we are no longer members of the EU,” he said. “Potentially that can act as a constraint in the scale and pace of the transition that is necessary.

“If there is one area that stands out in flashing red lights it is access to labour over the next couple of years.

“It is concerning me it could constrain our ability to drive forward this agenda at the pace that we need.”

brexit net zero © PA
Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson.

Mr Matheson, responsible for energy and transport, said the issue was raised by those in the energy industry regularly.

He added: “The government can do something about skills, and we are working with oil and gas and renewables through the ‘green skills academy’.

“Oil and gas needs to sustain their own skills going forward because not everyone can flip over to renewables but we need to make sure we help those who want to transition to renewables to get the support that is necessary.

“There is a clear commitment to the investment we will make to the ‘energy transition’ in the north-east of Scotland and we are working with the sector to support that transition.”

He said £500 million will be spent in the north-east and Moray to support the transition to net-zero over the next 10 years.

However, the Cabinet secretary also said he was “impressed” with how committed the oil and gas industry is to transitioning to renewables and low-carbon alternatives.

He added: “Optimistically I am struck over the course of the last few months in the scale of ambition in the private sector to take on the challenge of net-zero.

“In oil and gas the opportunities that can come from the renewables and low-carbon sectors is something I am impressed with.

“The commitment and the level of investment companies are prepared to make for that transition going forward, I am impressed with.

“Pessimistically the most challenging thing will be 60% of our measures needed to achieve our net-zero ambition involve a behavioural change, and we know that trying to change people’s behaviour can be challenging.

“We need to be open and honest about what behaviour change will look like and we need to reach a consensus on the support for achieving those targets.”

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