Holding Scottish Government And Big Business To Account

Two numbers stood out for me this month - 9.7 million and 129 million. They demonstrate why our politics needs the bold, progressive voice that the Scottish Greens offer.

9.7 million tonnes is the total amount of greenhouse gases that Scotland has emitted in excess of the legally-binding climate change targets our parliament set in 2009. The Scottish Government has failed to meet these target for the fourth year in a row. Meanwhile the UK Government is cutting subsidies for onshore wind and privatising the Green Investment Bank.

Ernst & Young’s Renewable Attractiveness Index has the UK falling to 8th place for the first time in 12 years, with ‘mixed messages’ from UK policy-makers cited as making the UK an increasingly unattractive place to invest.

We desperately need ambitious and bold government policies - at both UK and Scottish levels - which allow us to do what the science requires: leave the vast majority of existing reserves of oil, coal and gas in the ground, while ensuring that our methods of energy production and use do not contribute to financial hardship.

We know that when it comes to fuel poverty, a serious programme to insulate homes can create well-paid, secure employment, bring down exorbitant fuel bills and reduce the amount of energy produced in the first place. Last November I secured agreement from Finance Secretary John Swinney that energy-efficient homes should be a national infrastructure priority, leading to an extra £20million in the budget and I will continue to push for more.

£129 million is the annual pre-tax profit made by the Grangemouth oil and gas refinery, owned by Swiss-based multinational Ineos. Involved in an industrial dispute in October 2013, in the end it reversed its plans to close the site which threatened the loss of 800 jobs. Workers either took redundancy or a three-year pay freeze. They paid the price yet Ineos now tops the table of the UK’s 100 private companies with the biggest sales.

At the height of the Grangemouth dispute, the Scottish Greens were calling for an end to Ineos’ bullying tactics, and highlighted the broad support that exists in the trade union movement for a just transition for workers from old industries to a new low-carbon economy in which the workplace helps decide the way forward. The STUC, who represent over six hundred thousand union members in Scotland, continue to advocate such a transition towards a new economic model that protects workers, communities and the environment.

Empowerment of workers is a core value for Scottish Greens. We want to see anti-trade union laws rolled back, employee participation on company boards, the right for employees to buy out their company, and for an end to zero hours contracts.

Ineos now owns the fracking licenses for a huge swathe of the central belt. It is very telling that they describe the current onshore drilling moratorium as a “breather”. We need to turn that moratorium into a permanent ban, and pursue clean power and energy efficiency.

We need to continue holding the Scottish Government and polluting companies such as Ineos to account for the sake of our climate and our communities.