AS the world splits further into economic blocs, the UK increasingly resembles a small fish in a very large pond.

Caught between the EU, the US and China, any notions of Global Britain are inherently fanciful. Indeed, it is rather telling that post-Boris bluster and Truss’s total self-implosion, Global Britain as an idea seems to be dead in the water.

I make this point since, at the time of writing, the European Union is in the final negotiations over its Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) that was passed by the European Parliament late last year.

By the time you read this, we will know the outcome of negotiations but it is likely to be approved and be implemented before the Parliament elections in June.

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Before going into the specifics of NZIA, it is perhaps helpful to refresh our memories of how the EU makes law. It is a body we are aspiring an independent Scotland to join, after all, and we will have a say in this process.

There are three main institutions within the EU that hopefully regular readers will now be familiar with which are involved in EU decision-making:

  • The European Parliament, representing EU citizens;
  • The Council of the European Union, representing EU governments;
  • The European Commission, representing the EU’s overall interests.

The European Commission first proposes legislation to the Parliament and Council. If both bodies agree with the text, then it is adopted as legislation. If one or both wish to put forward amendments or reject the legislation entirely, it is within their right to do so.

If after further negotiations and readings there is no agreement between the three groups, the legislative proposal falls.

As such, no body can pass legislation without the consent of the other two institutions. This ensures that European citizens, member states’ governments and dedicated EU ministers all agree on the issue proposed.

The National: Net zero

It is time-consuming but what it means is that once the legislation is adopted, it is rarely revoked – simply improved or added to over time.

The NZIA has gone through a significant amount of discussion, editing, proposals and counter-proposals since the Commission first put it forward nearly a year ago.

Drafted in response to the US’s Inflation Reduction Act, which will see $369 billion (around £293bn) invested into the green tech industry, NZIA sets a series of ambitious goals to avoid European countries losing out to the US and China (whose own businesses receive significant state support as well).

The legislation aims to set a 2030 target of producing 40% of the products it needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, covering renewable energy, battery storage, heat pumps, electrolysers, biogas, carbon capture and electricity grids.

It also looks to simplify the regulatory framework of these technologies to help increase the competitiveness of the net-zero tech industry in Europe.

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Given that this sector is estimated to be globally worth around €600bn (£512.6bn) per year by 2030, and that it is expected that by 2050 we will see nearly a four-times increase in the deployment of renewables, a six-times increase in deployment of heat pumps and a 15-times increase in global electric vehicle production, whichever bloc can take the lead in this area stands to reap significant economic benefits.

The EU is not messing around, nor are the US or China. The UK, though, is stuck on the outside and therefore risks being caught in the kill zone for business investment which will shift to one of these three other markets.

Keir Starmer’s Labour continue to flip-flop on a relatively paltry £28bn investment into green energy compared to the EU and the US – the Conservatives, on the other hand, can’t ditch net-zero policies fast enough. Their shortsightedness will have long-term ramifications for Scotland’s economy.

The National: Keir Starmer has backtracked on his party's £28 billion green investment pledgeKeir Starmer has backtracked on his party's £28 billion green investment pledge

Our position in the SNP is one of pragmatism. Scotland’s natural resources, research and development hubs and financial sector make us an ideal partner for the EU when it comes towards achieving its net-zero goals. EU membership for an independent Scotland means we get to be part of this wider bloc of countries punching above our weight in the world.

Moreover, by investing in green energy and a just transition we are helping create jobs, create wealth and create a healthier world at the same time.

As we gear up for the next General Election we will continue to unashamedly make this case to the people of Scotland and keep a future Labour government honest on its promises of investment and constitutional reform.