Greens call for national insulation retrofit programme to help create 200,000 new jobs

Alison Johnstone
Alison Johnstone

Scotland could create 200,000 jobs over the next 20 years by pursuing a new economy built on strengths such as renewables, home insulation and forestry, according to a major research paper from Scottish Green MSPs.

Published today, the ‘Jobs in Scotland’s New Economy’ report uses government and industry assessments to calculate that significantly more people could be employed in sustainable industries than are currently employed in fossil fuel industries.

It says there is “an urgent need” to repair and retrofit the Scottish building stock, both residential and non-residential, including basic watertight repairs as well as insulation, draught-proofing, glazing, replacing inefficient boilers and installing solar hot water, solar PV, heat pumps or other renewable energy technology.

Improving the underlying standards of buildings, the report argues, will reduce fuel poverty, as well as energy use and carbon emissions.

The report also calls for a massive retrofit programme to reduce building-related energy use among public and private, residential, industrial and commercial buildings.

It says: “The priority should be proven and established solutions: loft and wall insulation, boiler replacement, installing double or ‘secondary’ glazing and draught-proofing windows and doors.

“The retrofit effort should also install either sustainable biomass-driven district heating, or electric heating powered by renewable energy from the grid. There will be an electricity surplus in future years as all the offshore power comes on stream, providing cheaper heating than gas (with less volatile prices).

“This programme will be most efficient if ‘retrofit teams’ can do all the jobs together, for neighbouring households. That way, a team of workers can do whole streets at a time, cutting both labour time and inconvenience. As well as insulating, the retrofit teams could install solar hot water, ground source heat pumps or solar PV on site, depending on the suitability of local roofs and gardens.”

Other policy ideas in the report include:

-Creating a publicly-owned renewables company to encourage offshore wind, tidal and wave developments.

-Prioritising North Sea decommissioning work.

-Taking the Grangemouth refinery and petrochemicals plant into public ownership.

-Converting Grangemouth to make and use synthetic gas to enable a long-term future.

-Launching a large-scale reforesting programme.

-Making available support packages for fossil fuel workers to aid their transition to new sectors.

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “In recent months there have been mass layoffs in the oil and gas industry. The ongoing insecurity due to the volatile price and finite nature of this resource has devastating consequences for families and communities. The only credible and responsible course of action is a managed transition towards sustainable sectors as outlined in this major report.

“We can enhance skills, encourage innovation and increase supply chain opportunities for Scotland’s small and medium-sized businesses. We have the chance to become a world centre of expertise in oil and gas decommissioning, with imminent global demand for such knowledge. Making housing insulation a national infrastructure priority is a point the Finance Secretary already agrees with me on.

“By showing in detail the opportunities we have for upscaling renewables and forestry, and retrofitting housing and green chemistry, we hope to prompt a serious debate about how we build a jobs-rich, low-carbon economy. To make the most of these opportunities we need to reject austerity, prioritise investment and reconsider the billion pounds annual subsidy we give oil and gas multinationals.

“The need for a clear vision has never been greater.”

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