STUC slams International Trade Secretary comments on free trade and green protectionism

July 21st 2021

STUC slams International Trade Secretary comments on free trade and green protectionism

July 21st 2021

Commenting on the International Trade Secretary Liz Truss’ statement as she launched a new trade report in Glasgow arguing that UK should reject 'green protectionism' and harness the free market to address climate crisis, the STUC General Secretary, Rozanne Foyer, said:

“Claims from the International Trade Secretary that the UK is a leader in green exports, fall short of the reality on the ground. In sectors like offshore wind we import far more goods and services than we export. Rather than a green jobs boom, we are actually seeing jobs in the low-carbon and renewable energy economy fall.”

The latest figures show that between 2014 and 2019 employment in the low-carbon and renewable energy economy fell from 246,000 to 202,000 across the UK, while in Scotland jobs fell from 23,000 to 21,000.

Foyer continued:

“In parts of the green economy, such as seafaring for offshore wind, we know that migrant labour is being paid less than the minimum wage, while multinational companies offshore construction work and dodge tax. We need regulation, not ideological claims to address this.

“The International Trade Secretary’s comments also ignores the fact that the UK Government already subsidises private companies in the green economy through a range of subsidies. Ideological claims about the benefits of free trade are little more than a veneer for a strategy premised on privatising our natural resources and publicly subsidising private companies.

“We also need to recognise the carbon cost of global supply chains. We currently import steel jackets from Indonesia, blades from Denmark and kit from Spain for offshore wind farms in Scotland. This makes no sense from a climate perspective and risks workers and communities here losing all faith in the concept of a Just Transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Rather than trumpet the free market, the UK Government needs to get serious about public investment and regulation to create the green jobs we need in Scotland and across the UK. Without a domestic industrial base for the green economy, not only will workers in Scotland miss out, but there are serious implications in terms of tax, transparency, economic democracy and meeting climate targets.”

ENDS

Notes The latest economic statistics about the low-carbon and renewable energy economy are available here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/environmentalaccounts/bulletins/finalestimates/previousReleases

The STUC’s report ‘Scotland’s Renewables Jobs Crisis’ details a number of issues relating to the low-carbon and renewable energy economy: http://www.stuc.org.uk/files/Policy/Research-papers/RenewableJobsCrisis_Covid-19.pdf

The International Trade Secretary comments are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-trade-report-argues-uk-should-reject-green-protectionism-and-harness-free-market-to-address-climate-crisis

For more information, please contact Rachel Thomson, Campaigns & Communications Officer, on 07974966227 or rthomson@stuc.org.uk

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