FINANCE Secretary Kate Forbes has warned that Scotland will not be able to meet its ambitious climate targets without “leveraging in private investment” to help clean up the economy.
Scotland has committed to reducing 1990 levels of carbon emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 on the way to becoming a carbon net zero economy by 2045, five years ahead of the UK Government.
Ms Forbes was quizzed about her draft Budget and whether it aligns with the key climate pledges when she appeared in front of Holyrood’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee – insisting that both go “hand in glove”.
The Finance Secretary told MSPs that this year’s Budget has three “very clear objectives“ – responding to the pandemic, tackling inequalities and focusing on rebuilding the economy.
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She said: “I see this moment in time as a crossroads, as an opportunity for Scotland to transition to a green recovery.
“The options that we have chosen are very much to try and accelerate the transition and accelerate the shift. You can see it in infrastructure – we have intentionally chosen to inject confidence in our economy by investing substantially in infrastructure.”
Ms Forbes pointed to the level of low carbon capital investment now set to total more than £1.9 billion – comprising in excess of one third of the overall capital spending.
She added: “If we are going to see that transition, and right now we need to do all we can to save as well as create new jobs, we need to ensure that there’s a pipeline of skills.
“I am clear that public money alone will not meet our climate change ambitions in isolation. It’s got to be about leveraging in private investment as well.”
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The Finance Secretary pointed to the Scottish National Investment Bank which as well as harnessing public money with a focus on a green economy, it will look to encourage investment from the private sector.
Ms Forbes added: “I’m under no illusions just how challenging our climate change plan is. The design of the budget has to go hand in glove with the climate change plan or else it’s not credible.
“Right at the heart of the build of the budget is this point around green recovery.
“We cannot meet climate change ambitions though public money alone.
“It’s increasingly clear that the policies that we design need to draw in additional private investment on top of public money that’s in the budget – that will need to use innovative financing mechanisms, it will need to look at regulation, it will need to signal clear pathways for the transition.”