Natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity. Already these catastrophic events have caused $ 3 trillion in damage around the world during this century.
We owe it to our children, our grandchildren and their descendants to act. The future of our planet is at stake.
Today, the UK government’s Board of Trade (BoT) is releasing a new report detailing how free and fair trade can help protect the environment for generations to come.
The “Green Trade” document presents a powerful vision of how trade can help create several thousand high-value green jobs in the country while working with countries around the world to secure a sustainable future.
As an advisor to the BoT, I worked closely with Liz Truss, Chairman of the Board of Directors and UK Government Secretary of Commerce, on the report.
This is a comprehensive document that shows how free and fair trade will build on the progress we have already made in tackling climate change.
Snapshot: Could the blazing heatwave in Canada be a sign of climate change to come …
As we welcome the Secretary of Commerce north of the border for his launch, it is heartening that Scotland is leading the way in creating an eco-friendly economy.
More than a tenth of UK low-carbon and renewable energy jobs are in Scotland with the potential for much more – in 2019 that was equivalent to 21,400 full-time Scottish employees.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics also show that clean energy production is a growing industry with 13,500 Scottish companies in the low-carbon and renewable energy sector in 2019, 35% more than the ‘last year.
Almost a third of all offshore wind jobs in the UK are based in Scotland. The enormous potential of renewables is illustrated by the fact that last year Scotland generated enough green energy to power every house north of the border for three and a half years.
Over 60% of this renewable energy has been exported outside Scotland with an estimated wholesale market value of £ 0.76 billion.
But there is much more we can do. Britain’s low-carbon economy could grow by 11% per year between 2015 and 2030, four times faster than the rest of the economy, and the sector’s global export market is expected to reach £ 1.8 trillion by 2030. The expansion represents a major opportunity for the UK, spurring growth across the country and new investment in Scotland.
Some £ 12 billion in UK government investment will be mobilized by the end of the decade to create an additional 250,000 green jobs in the UK.
The UK government is also helping companies in North East Scotland use the expertise accumulated over decades of exploring the North Sea to develop techniques such as hydrogen and carbon capture, as well as to exploit natural resources.
The most recent UK budget allocated £ 27million to the Aberdeen Energy Transition Zone, which will support 2,500 green jobs and other related 10,000 jobs by 2030. The UK government is also investing £ 90million in Aberdeen’s Net Zero Technology Center through the Aberdeen City Region Deal. .
And our proposals to create free ports across the UK will create high value-added jobs and promote sustainable export growth.
But reducing harmful emissions around the world cannot be achieved in isolation. The UK may have been successful in leading the G20 by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 44% since 1990, but we must not rest on our laurels.
In addition to creating sustainable and high value-added jobs in the UK, it is crucial to foster green trade with other countries. We must use free trade, free markets and free enterprise to accelerate the global green transition.
Using the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow later this year and the UK Presidency of the G7, we can shape the 21st century trading system to support the global effort to tackle climate change and the loss of nature. We will encourage countries to commit to common goals for climate action.
We are already supporting international efforts to clean up the environment. For example, the UK government is co-sponsoring the Fiji / China informal dialogue on trade and plastics. In addition, UK exporters are now subject to stricter rules for shipping plastic waste.
UK trade levers can accelerate the global green transition and make a major contribution to achieving the Paris Agreement target of keeping the increase in global average temperature well below two degrees Celsius by above pre-industrial levels.
Our objective is to defend the reform of the trading system, so that it contributes to the green transition. We will achieve this by liberalizing green trade, while combating market distortions such as industrial subsidies that encourage overconsumption of environmentally damaging goods and services.
This includes seeking free trade agreements based on liberal and green principles that protect the UK’s right to regulate on the environment.
We can use foreign direct investment to boost our green industries while exporting our green products to accelerate the low carbon transition.
Foreign investment can also help raise the £ 50 billion a year needed by 2030 to meet our net zero commitments. There are already examples of the type of money injection needed. For example, US utility vehicle maker Meritor is building a new Scottish technology hub with its Welsh factory to develop electric powertrains for heavy-duty vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Mitsubishi Electric plant in Livingston manufactures low-carbon heat pumps to decarbonize homes that are exported to Europe.
It’s a great example of the type of business that can make the most of the UK government’s clean growth strategy.
The Chamber has a long and proud history. He fought for the benefits of international trade for almost 400 years. But never before has trade had a more important role to play in the future of the planet.
Alister Jack is Secretary of State for Scotland and Tory MP for Dumfries and Galloway