Patrick Harvie MSP

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Search for other Speeches made by Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green)

Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
Patrick Harvie

The Deputy First Minister was right to put a general anti-avoidance rule at the heart of Revenue Scotland’s approach to its work from day 1, and I commend him for that decision. However, we could do other things, even with devolved powers, to show that we have a zero-tolerance approach. Does he agree that individuals or companies that engage in tax avoidance, for example through the use of tax havens, should be debarred from public appointments or from taxpayer-funded grant schemes such as regional selective assistance? Would that send the right signal that a zero-tolerance approach is being taken to tax avoidance in Scotland?



Meeting of the Parliament 26 February 2015 : Thursday, February 26, 2015
4. Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green)

To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the First Minister’s comment that there should be “zero tolerance” on tax avoidance, what policy changes it plans to make. (S4O-04054)



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Patrick Harvie

They would not necessarily know what all the ethical issues are, but individuals make choices as consumers and many choose to be informed about fair trade issues, about labour standards or about environmental performance when they make choices about how they will spend their money. It seems reasonable that even a relatively small business might have some consideration of those issues.



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Patrick Harvie

How have your two organisations engaged with that set of issues?



Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green)

I am tempted to suggest that we invite the French consul to a future evidence session before we finish the inquiry. I am glad that the last answer covered a bit about the cultural aspects of other countries, because the original question elicited some comments about our own culture and our attitudes to entrepreneurship. The culture of other countries is obviously the other side of the equation—the other side of that relationship.

Some of our earlier sessions have touched on the ethical context of internationalising business and the issues that may arise in countries with a very poor record on equalities and human rights, for example. What issues arise for women running businesses when they try to engage with certain countries? What issues are there in relation to countries that have problems with racism, with corruption and bribery, or with poor human rights and labour standards in the supply chain?

Can you comment on the issues that are thrown up and which businesses in Scotland may encounter? Will they encounter those issues as barriers, or are there ways of engaging with those issues constructively as part of the development of an international relationship between businesses here and overseas?



Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Patrick Harvie

I am afraid that, with four minutes, I do not have time.

That security cannot be achieved on a stand-alone basis. No man is an island, it is said. No country—even one that looks like an island geographically—is an island in energy terms. It will be increasingly important that we have interconnectivity not only to the rest of the UK but across the North Sea to the rest of Europe.

I cannot remember who it was, but somebody used the phrase “importing English electricity” during the debate. Whatever view we take of the constitutional relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK, none of us should be worried about importing English electrons or, indeed, exporting electricity to other countries across the North Sea. There will be an increasing need for interconnectivity.

I cite the support of Ian Duncan, the Tory MEP, who talked the other day about the need for high-voltage direct current transmission across the North Sea so that we can trade different sources of renewables to match variable supply with variable demand efficiently without transmission losses. That must be part of the future.

There were some brief exchanges on the costs, particularly of nuclear energy. I would not accuse Mr Fraser of deliberately misrepresenting his position or the facts, but I highlight the difference between the rhetoric that we often hear, particularly from the political right, on issues such as so-called green taxes—the parts of the subsidy for renewable energy generation that show up on our bills—and the hidden subsidy for nuclear generation as the taxpayer picks up the tab for the decommissioning of nuclear plant. The amount of money that is going into that is dramatically bigger.

There is no subsidy-free solution to our energy challenges. We should not be ashamed of that. We should acknowledge that we can invest public subsidy in producing an energy system that meets people’s needs securely not only today but for the long term, which means sustainably.

None of that should deflect us from the need to address transition and to do so justly. Neil Findlay’s comments on the industrial heritage from fossil fuels are significant, but we must look to the future. We have the opportunity to do something that fossil fuels or nuclear power cannot do, which is to decentralise the ownership of our energy system and, thereby, the economic benefits from it. Renewables lend themselves to that in a way that fossil fuels and nuclear energy simply do not.

In the final analysis, we need to recognise that this brief little blip in the planet’s history—this tiny century in which a bunch of allegedly smart apes have become so hooked on every form of fossil fuel that can be extracted, which has bound us intimately and intricately with those products—is coming to an end. Unless we get to grips with the need for a just transition, we will be failing to meet not only our ecological needs but our social and economic needs.

15:35  

Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Patrick Harvie

I am grateful to Joan McAlpine for focusing some of her remarks on the WWF report that is cited in the Green amendment because it saves me a little time in my closing speech. That report sets out a clear vision for producing by 2030 a largely fossil fuel-free and nuclear-free energy system that would be achievable, credible, cheaper than the alternative, lower climate risk and—yes—secure.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Patrick Harvie

I am sorry, but I have to move on.

Lewis Macdonald rightly emphasised the slight ambiguity in the wording on CCS in the minister’s amendment. The suggestion in the amendment that CCS will continue to play a role implies that it currently plays a significant role, which it does not. As Mr Macdonald rightly identified, the word “progressively” in the amendment seems to leave open the possibility that additional fossil-fuel generating capacity will be approved without CCS being an existing element.

I refer members to the WWF briefing for the debate, in which WWF acknowledges its support for research into CCS. I, too, have never been against research into CCS or public support for such research. However, the briefing makes it clear that the commercialisation of CCS has not been happening at pace. It states:

“The Scottish Government has a responsibility to plan and cater for a scenario in which CCS does not establish itself commercially as quickly as might previously have been hoped.”

WWF calls on the Scottish Government to review its electricity generation policy statement accordingly. WWF’s point is an important one that is consistent with the Scottish Government’s long-standing assumption, which I think is mentioned in RPP2, that Longannet might close by 2020.

We should acknowledge that the transition that we are in must be just and that there must be a far greater emphasis by both levels of government on the diversification of local economies that currently depend heavily on short-term forms of energy generation that have no long-term future.

Mr Macdonald’s amendment states:

“the Scottish Government is responsible ... for ... stewardship of the Scottish economy”.

Would that that was so. Responsibility is clearly divided between two Governments, and it is not enough to say that one Government has responsibility without it having the power. The wider issues about the just transition are echoed in the final part of the Green amendment, which I commend to Parliament.

I move amendment S4M-12395.2, to leave out from first “notes” to end and insert:

“supports an energy strategy for Scotland based on a step-change in energy efficiency, a focus on demand reduction, increased storage capacity, development of a North Sea transmission grid and a rapid transition to low-carbon power production with an emphasis on local and community ownership; notes research such as the World Wildlife Fund’s Pathways to Power, which demonstrates that an almost fully renewables-based electricity generation system is technically feasible and achievable in 2030; recognises that Longannet’s age, EU emissions rules and carbon pricing mean that the closure of the plant is inevitable, and believes that this closure, coupled with recent oil price volatility, demonstrates the need to focus on a just transition for workers and communities from fossil fuels to a secure low-carbon energy system.”



Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Patrick Harvie

I hope that the general point is made that the transmission charging regime is one factor among many and that the minister has failed to place sufficient emphasis on, or failed to sufficiently recognise, the issues of emission rules and carbon pricing.

However, Mr Fraser’s motion only partially emphasises some aspects. For example, it states that Longannet contributes

“25% of Scotland’s electricity output at its peak”.

In considering such questions, it is not enough to look only at electricity output; we also have to acknowledge that Longannet is far and away the biggest contributor in Scotland to climate change, because it is the biggest contributor to the carbon emissions that are driving climate change, which is one of the most crucial threats that our civilisation faces in the 21st century. It is a partial description of the situation to look only at the electricity output and not at the carbon emissions factor.



Meeting of the Parliament 25 February 2015 : Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green)

Murdo Fraser indicated that he had tried to find the kindest thing that he could say about my amendment. I appreciate the effort that he went to, but I am happy to acknowledge that I could have survived without that particular kindness this week. However, let me repay the compliment, because there was something in his opening remarks that we can agree on. He made it clear that the Government’s position of placing the emphasis regarding recent developments at Longannet purely on the transmission charging regime is at best a partial description of current circumstances. In that regard, his motion is right to refer to

“EU emissions rules and carbon pricing”.

I happily acknowledge that the transmission charging regime is clearly a factor; I will go as far in the minister’s direction as that. However, it is not a new factor but a long-standing one. I find it hard to rationalise a position that places such a heavy emphasis on that long-standing factor to explain recent events, which is what the minister does.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-12423.1 Alex Rowley: Commission on Local Tax Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-12423 in the n
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YesCarried

S4M-12423 Marco Biagi: Commission on Local Tax Reform—That the Parliament supports the establishment
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YesCarried

S4M-12385 Liz Smith: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament agrees that a solid grou
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NoCarried

S4M-12395.1 Fergus Ewing: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in the
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NoCarried

S4M-12395.2 Patrick Harvie: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—As an amendment to motion S4M-12395 in t
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YesDefeated

S4M-12395 Murdo Fraser: An Energy Strategy for Scotland—That the Parliament notes with concern the l
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NoCarried

S4M-12385.3 Alasdair Allan: STEM Education in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to motion S4M-12385 i
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NoCarried

S4M-12382.3 Mary Fee: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to motion S4
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NoDefeated

S4M-12382.1 Gavin Brown: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to motion
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NoDefeated

S4M-12382.2 Willie Rennie: Building Scotland’s Infrastructure for the Future—As an amendment to moti
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NoDefeated

Search for other Motions lodged by Patrick Harvie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-12395.2: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 24/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12308: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 13/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-12222: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 02/02/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11993.2: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 07/01/2015 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11869: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11868: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 10/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11763.2: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 02/12/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11186: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 10/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11153: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 08/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11116.1.1: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Patrick Harvie
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4T-00957: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 02/03/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-04054: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 18/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-04026: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 11/02/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-24008: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 14/01/2015 Show Full Question >>
Question S4F-02497: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 15/12/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23379: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23380: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-23381: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 21/11/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22962: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 30/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22908: Patrick Harvie, Glasgow, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 20/10/2014 Show Full Question >>