A LEADING economist has won praise for explaining how Scotland can use its “leading” natural capital to help its recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

Dieter Helm, author and Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Oxford, told Good Morning Scotland that in terms of natural capital the country is “a class apart from the rest”, bringing opportunities for a more sustainable economy.

Andrew Wilson, chair of the Sustainable Growth Commission, said Helm’s interview with the BBC programme was “magnificent”.

Explaining the concept of a green recovery, Helm told listeners: “A green recovery is essentially taking a look at the balance sheet of Scotland, looking at its assets of which natural capital is an absolutely crucial part, and looking at how to build a sustainable economy making the most of those natural assets. That includes action on climate change, but of course climate isn’t just about emissions and power stations. It’s about the soil, it’s about the land, the huge peat deposits in Scotland.

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“And of course Scotland’s great, amongst its many assets, its great asset is its sheer natural beauty. The opportunities that offers to build a better and more sustainable economy in the future …”

The presenter asked if creating jobs in one area would lead to job losses in others.

Helm said: “Economies always evolve, if you look at Scotland there are particular sectors which are vulnerable to fundamental changes which go way beyond the coronavirus. The North Sea oil and gas industry is coming to the end of its life regardless of what you think about climate change so new uses of those assets, new opportunity is hydrogen, offshore wind is some part of that. But also financial services are under threat once we’re outside Brexit. Where we’re no longer in the EU,

“Those parts of the economy naturally will decline … so on the other side you have to think well where’s the future, what are the opportunities in this huge digitalisation and technological revolution, with the environmental challenges and yes post-Brexit. That’s where you look at the balance sheet and think what are the assets of the future?”

The economist explained that the pandemic means there are many new challenges coming our way which require long-term solutions, not short-term fixes.

“The environment is long-term. You need a sustainable strategy for sustainably consumption for a sustainable economy,” Helm said.

“Politicians need to look to that and the best way of doing it is to draw up Scotland’s balance sheet, and have a look at what assets, what advantages Scotland has and then focus on those. As I say, Scotland is probably one of the leading countries in the world where its natural environment, its natural capital, sets it in a class apart from the rest. That’s where the opportunities lie.”

Wilson praised Helm for his explanation of the issue, tweeting after: “Magnificent interview with @Dieter_Helm by @BBCGaryR on @BBCScotland just there. Listen back. ‘Scotland has outstanding natural capital on its balance sheet, measure it and manage it sustainably’. Rationale and clear thinking and ambition. Bravo.”

The First Minister has promised to make a green jobs revolution a “national mission” for Scotland as part of her Programme for Government.

Last week Nicola Sturgeon announced a £100 million Green Jobs Fund to be paid out over the next five years and support new and increased opportunities for green job creation across Scotland.