Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Cop26 voices: Renewables are a huge opportunity for jobs, for equality, for Scotland

© SYSTEMFraser Stewart
Fraser Stewart

Alex Salmond’s prediction that Scotland would become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy was once a clarion call for hope and action but, as the years passed, became a byword for hubris and hype.

However, Fraser Stewart believes the now infamous prediction, while premature, still has the potential to be achieved – just. Stewart, an energy policy researcher, specialises in how we can make clean energy work actively against poverty and inequality.

“This is absolutely still feasible, although it will take a lot more than what we’re currently doing to realise it,” said Stewart. “As it stands, we are still offshoring huge amounts of both the manufacturing of renewables and the profits from green energy generation.

“This means we are not creating nearly as many jobs as we could and the profit from this huge natural resource we have isn’t going back into the Scottish economy or local communities at anywhere near the rate that it could be.

“To make that claim a reality, we need to first make sure that as much of the industry as possible is kept within Scotland, and that Scots get to realise the benefit of our clean energy first and foremost – in both jobs, savings and profits.”

One of the areas the researcher is exploring is how we make houses more energy-efficient to bring down emissions and reduce energy bills.

He is also examining how to get local energy projects into low-income areas to generate clean electricity and create good jobs while promoting other social benefits.

“Renewable energy could be a monumental employer in Scotland, more so than it is now anyway, but only if we’re willing to invest and keep as many as possible of those jobs in-country,” he said.

“Those aren’t just traditional engineering or manufacturing jobs either. To clean up our energy systems – not just electricity but heat and transport systems too – will require changes to infrastructure in homes, communities, streets and buildings.”

As well as creating jobs, he believed that addressing climate and energy issues would ultimately help reduce poverty.

“Combating the climate crisis is a huge opportunity to do some good against inequality,” he said. “While it won’t solve the entrenched social, economic and structural issues that underpin poverty, it can help to alleviate a lot of stressors.

“So, by insulating our lowest-income houses – which tend to be the least energy-efficient – we can bring down bills, cut emissions and at the same time improve the mental and physical health of our people.

“By making more of our energy renewable and, ideally, produced locally, we can protect ourselves from volatile gas prices and supply issues from elsewhere which tend to disproportionately impact poorer people too.”

Stewart said that if you put people and communities at the heart of the energy transition, the social and economic benefits should start to multiply quickly.

He added: “We have a huge opportunity to do something truly massive in Scotland, but only if we’re willing to put that power to work for people.”