MSPs have cited renewable energy as the industry with the highest growth potential in Scotland.

Research shows that four in 10 (39%) members of the Scottish parliament said renewable energy is the sector with the greatest potential for growth in the next five years.

Financial services (38%), food and drink (23%) and tourism (21%) all fell below renewable energy in a growth prediction poll.

According to the research, the Scottish Government’s declaration of a climate emergency is the reason for the results. One anonymous MSP told PA Advocacy: “Renewables has got huge potential for growth, especially with the climate emergency that the First Minister has declared. Certainly in industrial heartlands, much like my constituency, there may be an opportunity there for jobs in the future through renewables that wasn’t there before.”

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The prospective economic benefits of the sector was another reason for the results. Claire Mack, chief executive of industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “The past 18 months have of course seen climate change become a central political issue. Scotland, with its incredible renewable energy resource, is already proving that investment in green energy brings jobs and social benefits alongside carbon reduction.”

Mack also believes that “a low-carbon energy system powered by renewables will be the engine of our future economic growth”.

“Sustained support from the governments at Holyrood and Westminster is important if we are to continue to show what our industry can do, both on and offshore, to deliver against our stretching climate change targets while continuing to develop sustainable, long-term, skilled employment for thousands of people across Scotland.

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“We know that 83% of the UK public support the use of renewables, so it’s great to see Scotland’s politicians, who have been so instrumental in accelerating the shift towards green energy, demonstrating their belief that a low-carbon system, powered by technologies like wind, hydro and solar, will be the engine of our future economic growth.”

The results have been released ahead of the Scottish Renewables’ annual conference on March 24-25 in Edinburgh, where the sector and its issues will be discussed.