In a drive to tackle the effects of the pandemic, the impact of Brexit and climate change, Scottish Enterprise recently unveiled its plans to accelerate the country’s green economic recovery.

In May, the national development agency announced it would invest £400 million to safeguard and create jobs for communities across Scotland. It said that with recent statistics showing that Scotland’s economy may not return to pre-pandemic levels until early 2024, its focus is on building on signs of recovery and accelerating growth.

One notable part of its plan is the new requirement for businesses to demonstrate their commitment to net zero and fair work as part of accessing Scottish Enterprise support.

Linda Hanna, interim chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: “As we continue to feel the impact from the pandemic and Brexit, Scotland’s unemployment levels are expected to rise. That’s why our plan for the year focuses on working with businesses and industry to safeguard and create jobs. Good jobs, green jobs and jobs that can improve the health and wealth of the nation simultaneously.”

Commenting on the plan, Clare Reid, Scottish Council for Development and Industry director of policy & public affairs, said: “We welcome Scottish Enterprise’s shift in focus towards incentivising and supporting the organisations, places and projects to implement Fair Work principles and net zero outcomes.

“Our own research for our Blueprint 2030 – ‘Making a Good Living’ demonstrates that we have an opportunity to become a leader in net zero solutions, including through our emerging climate technology sector, the North Sea transition, blue economy and bioeconomy opportunities.”

Alasdair Green, energy sector director at Anderson, Anderson & Brown (AAB), said he commends the key theme running through Scottish Enterprise’s plan that focuses on promoting green economic recovery.

Referring to the requirement for businesses to demonstrate their commitment to net zero and fair work, Green added: “This is a welcome step in a rapidly advancing green agenda that is placing increasing levels of scrutiny on the actions and responsibility of businesses in all sectors to take action. It sets an example and a model to the level of accountability businesses of all sizes have for their part in achieving sustainability and net zero targets.”

He said it also follows a much wider trend for all matters related to ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) and what businesses are doing to address them. “Beyond the environmental benefits of tackling climate change, ESG has become a major strategic factor in the boardroom, investment, tender processes and securing new clients, recruitment, employee engagement and many other areas,” explained Green.

“And as we get closer to COP26 in Glasgow later this year, this commitment and incentive from Scottish Enterprise is another helpful step towards our drive to a greener and more fair economy.

“We now need others in the business world to recognise this, to act and to contribute to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where Scotland is in the spotlight.”

Main points

Key measures in Scottish Enterprise’s five year plan:

l Up to £425m planned R&D investment  by businesses/projects

l Up to £360m planned capital investment by businesses/projects

l Up to £230m growth funding raised by businesses

l Up to £1bn planned international exports

l Up to 240k tonnes estimated CO2 savings by businesses/projects