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By Lynda Williamson
Patrick Harvie has reacted to this year’s GERS figures by again calling for the establishment of a publicly owned renewables company. According to the Scottish Green MSP, the figures highlight opportunities for Scotland but also beg questions about future ownership of Scotland's energy assets.
The GERS figures show that Scotland's estimated deficit, at £7.6 billion, is 5% of GDP compared to a UK deficit of £121 billion which accounts for 7.9% of UK GDP. These figures are arrived at using revenues from Scotland's oil and gas revenues and show the importance of these revenues to Scotland's economy.
The Scottish Green co-convenor, who celebrates his forthcoming 40th birthday with a fund-raising event for Practical Action this weekend, said:
"These figures show the strength of Scotland's finances but are also a reminder that we face risk and uncertainty if we plan to rely forever on unsustainable fossil fuel reserves. Scots who are as yet undecided about next year's referendum have the right to know how we plan to reduce that over-reliance.
"By taking control of our finances we have a chance to be bold, directing our resources to tackle inequality, creating stable employment and minimising our environmental impact. That control will be lost if we allow the country's prosperity to accumulate in the pockets of the few."
Mr Harvie has, in the past stressed the need for a managed transition from reliance on fossil fuels recognising that switching from oil and gas to renewables cannot be done overnight.
He added: "There is no question that our world needs to start living for the long term, leaving a proportion of known fossil fuel reserves unburned. But if Scotland invests the revenue from what we do decide to extract into a public renewable energy company, we can replace the income from oil and gas and build a legacy that will transform our economy and serve future generations well."
As well as a national publicly owned renewables company, the Scottish Greens have long called for more community ownership of micro generation of renewable energy. They propose that local authorities be given the power to create local energy companies which could provide valuable income for cash strapped communities.
Speaking in September last year, Mr Harvie said: "In addition to reducing our demand for energy, perhaps the best investment we could make at present would be a massive programme of publicly owned renewables with every council empowered to set up a locally owned energy company.
"Rather than see the big energy companies taking all the rewards, we should take early action to keep a share of the economic benefits of renewables in public hands."