Made in Scotland

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) together with Peace and Justice have published an excellent report ‘Made in Scotland’ which highlights how Scottish arms manufacturers have fuelled the war in Yemen.

Scot.E3 argues that workers in the arms industry should be redeployed to provide the engineering skills that are necessary for building a new sustainable, zero carbon< Scottish Economy. For more on this see Briefing 5.


UK-made warplanes, bombs and missiles have fuelled the conflict in Yemen which has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 24 million people, 80% of Yemen’s population, requiring humanitarian assistance as of January 2019. Saudi Arabia and the UAE lead the coalition, alongside Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait and Morocco. Coalition forces have targeted hospitals, clinics and vaccinations centres across Yemen, and after nearly six years of conflict, the country’s healthcare infrastructure has “almost collapsed.”

Polls over recent years have found the Scottish public are significantly opposed to Saudi arms exports. Just 11% of Scots said arms sales to Saudi Arabia were acceptable in a 2019 Opinium poll. In 2018, a ComRes poll gave similar results, with only 14% of Scots supporting continued arms sales to the Kingdom.

Despite this public opposition, weapons and military goods made in Scotland, from Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, Midlothian, Glasgow and Lanarkshire, are all in operation with the Saudi-led coalition forces. At least 16 arms companies operating in Scotland have applied for military export licences to Saudi-led coalition members or worked directly with military forces since 2008.

In the Scottish Parliament, the Government has faced criticism over grants and support given to arms companies by its business support body Scottish Enterprise. Scottish Enterprise provides ten of the companies mentioned with free account management services, yet held meetings around diversification from arms sales with only four of them over the past 12 months.

‘The Plan’

At last night’s meeting held jointly with Edinburgh CND we showed the 30 minute version of Steve Sprung’s film about the Lucas Plan. We strongly recommend watching the full version and you can find out more about the film at the dedicated website. You can also follow up on current developments via the new Lucas Plan website. If you weren’t able to make the meeting you can watch the 30 minute version here

From arms to renewables

At the 2018 Scot.E3 conference we were fortunate to have a contribution from Andrew Feinstein from Corruption Watch and author of ‘The Shadow World – Inside the Global Arms Trade’.  Andrew made the case that ending the arms economy should be an integral part of a broader strategy of tackling the climate crisis.  In the course of the year this topic has been raised again at meetings that we’ve held or participated in.  Some people have argued that whatever your opinion on the arms trade – taking arms divestment on board at the same time as taking measures to decarbonize is a distraction.  Others have supported Andrew’s view and in the course of this debate the outline of a more developed and strategic view has emerged.  We hope that this can be developed further in the course of the 2019 conference.

This autumn a number of peace organisations have joined up with Extinction Rebellion to organise around XR Peace.  The London October rebellion included a number of actions highlighting the links between war and the environment.  XR Peace has focused on the massive carbon footprint of the military, the environmental devastation cause by war and social and economic upheavals as a result of climate change as a cause of conflict.

In the discussions that we have been involved in throughout the year other reasons for including arms and ‘defence’ divestment in our strategy have emerged.  The first is very pragmatic.  There is a pressing need to switch from energy systems that produce green house gases (carbon emissions) to zero carbon technologies.  These technologies exist and it perfectly possible to implement them.  But to make the transition at the speed that is required requires the skills and labour of a large number of engineers, electricians and other specialists.  Most of these jobs will have to be done by people already in the workforce.  Some of them work in oil and gas and as these carbon-based sources of energy are phased out they can be redeployed in the new renewable industries.  But there are not enough people in oil and gas – we also need the skills of those currently employed in the military industrial complex.  Shifting from arms to renewables is morally right but it’s also an economic imperative if we want to prevent catastrophic climate change.


Image: Pete Cannell CC0

There are of course other economic reasons too.  Levels of investment and state support for the arms trade and for the military are huge.  Our economies are distorted by the privileged position that the major arms companies (along with the big energy corporations) occupy.  These privileges go hand in glove with eye watering levels of corruption and huge levels of corporate lobbying with a revolving door through which politicians and executives continually move and switch roles.  It’s these relationships which actively oppose realistic attempts to take action over climate and as a movement we need to demand that state support and investment ends, lobbying stops and arrangements are put in place for a rapid shift to sustainable and ethical employment for those who work in these industries.   These demands have a particular resonance in Scotland where the Trident nuclear system and arms manufacturing have had a disproportionate impact on our economy.


Image: Wikimedia Commons

STUC Fringe Meeting

The Scottish Trades Union Congress meets at the Caird Hall in Dundee from 15th – 17th April.  Scot.E3 is contributing to one of the fringe meetings:

Developing Sustainable and Socially Useful Jobs in Today’s Economy 
Wednesday April 17 at 1230pm
Committee Room 2 City Chambers
Pete Roche – research officer  – Nuclear Free Local Authorities
Speaker from Scot.E3
Meeting organised by Scottish CND


Defence diversification and just transition

More from the #justtransitions conference: Andrew Feinstein director of Corruption watch speaking on the arms trade, diversification and just transitions @EdinburghCAAT #scote3

Why we need a just transition

There is no doubt that we are already facing the effects of climate change. Sea levels are rising; glaciers and ice caps are melting faster than anyone envisaged. Around the world the frequency and strength of extreme storms is creating misery for the coastal poor while the rich move to higher ground.

Speakers at the Edinburgh Just Transitions conference will argue that our response to climate change has to be political. The recent UN report, and almost all large-scale policy initiatives, has been based on an assumption that market forces will drive a transition to a low carbon economy. There is a market response. Massive increases in wind and solar are a case in point. However, if current policies are continued, there is no chance that carbon reduction targets for 2030 and 2050 will be achieved either locally in Scotland or globally.

We have the technological knowledge to make a rapid transition to a sustainable economy. What’s missing is political will. We’ll argue that the politics of transition is as critical as the technology. On the one hand there is the status quo in a state reliance on the market. A top down approach that protects the rich and powerful – builds walls and fences and curtails civil liberties. On the other hand there is what is increasingly described as a Just Transition. This would involve programmes of publicly funded investment creating new jobs, protecting the livelihoods of those who will move from oil, gas and defence industries to new jobs and dramatically improving the living conditions of the bulk of the population through better insulated homes and improved public transport.

To achieve a Just Transition the response has to be international but action is required in every local context. In Scotland we start with significant advantages that could make us a beacon for the world. Across manufacturing, defence and construction there is a rich base of engineering skills. We have access to a wealth of natural resources wind, wave, tidal and hydro. Scottish Universities are at the forefront of developing wave and tidal technology.   The Scottish Government’s response is hugely better than Westminster’s. The proposed national energy company and green investment bank are essential for a Just Transition. However, the current plans show a poverty of ambition that falls far short of the radical steps that are required.

Only right wing ideologues now deny climate change. But beyond a relatively small layer of activists most people feel disconnected and powerless. This is reinforced by appeals to personal and lifestyle choices that are inaccessible to many. Surely the challenge is to link the necessary steps to the immediacy of working class lives. Workers in defence, construction and hydrocarbons are key. Their skills are needed to build the new and democratic economy. Yet at present they work in sectors that have seen a huge increase in agency workers and worsening pay and conditions. Despite excellent resolutions on climate change at the STUC, unions in these sectors continue to put jobs, any jobs, first. But this strategy is bankrupt morally, practically and politically. And increasingly workers in the industry recognise this. However, they need to believe that there is an alternative.

At the conference we’ll hear from authors of the Million Climate Jobs plan for transition, from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, from climate activists and critically from workers in defence and construction. We will also hear from welfare campaigners fighting for social justice as represented by fuel poverty. Through the day discussion will focus on developing ideas that translate the issues and challenges that we face, and the steps that we know have to be taken, into a draft manifesto for action. We hope to circulate this far and wide to provoke debate, discussion and develop more ideas. Core to this will have to be a sense of developing collective organisation and social solidarity that will be essential in making the transition but will also shape our future and how we and those who come after us live in the world.

This article first published on Common Space 13/11/18

Solidarity with shipyard workers in North Devon

Reposted from REEL News

Huge demonstration in Bideford, North Devon this weekend, to stop the only merchant shipyard in the country from closing. All 200 workers are facing redundancy a few days before Christmas, and the knock-on effect for the local economy will be huge. And this shows the lunacy of modern capitalism – the Government urgently needs non-military ships built for the Royal Navy, but instead of giving the work to the highly skilled workforce at Appledore shipyard and keeping the shipyard open, they’re putting it internationally to competitive tender to get the lowest price.

On top of that, the Tories know they need to take drastic steps to move to renewable energy to stop catastrophic climate change – so why aren’t they immediately giving Appledore a contract to build all the offshore wind turbines and other infrastructure we’re going to desperately need, and instead pushing ahead with a dangerous fracking operation that is already causing tremors and will push up our carbon emissions?

This is also one of the few places left with a proper apprenticeship scheme, training up the highly skilled workers of the future – but the Tories and engineering multinational Babcock International want to just chuck all this in the bin in their race to the bottom.
This is a major dispute kicking off with national importance – get behind the Appledore workers and demand the shipyard stays open. You can start by signing the petition at before they and it in to Parliament tomorrow.



Just Transitions: Employment, Energy and Environment

A one day conference on Saturday 17 November

The aim of the conference is to bring together rank and file trade unionists, and climate activists to debate and discuss the transition to a sustainable economy. The focus is on jobs, energy and the environment.   Contributors include Joe Pisani (Unite steward Balfour Beattie, Rosyth Dockyard and Unite Executive), Jonathan Neale (Campaign Against Climate change and coauthor of the Million Climate Jobs pamphlet), Andrew Feinstein (author, filmmaker and CAAT), Fliss Premu (REEL news) and Hazel Graham (Cumbrian climate activist). The agenda will cover climate change, transitions, job creation and defence divestment.

Sign up for the conference on Eventbrite

If you would like to book one or more children into the creche please email Zareen at with the names and ages of the children.  To ensure that we have sufficient creche workers bookings for the creche will close on 12th November.

If you are a member of an organisation that could sponsor the conference download the invitation letter here

You can download a poster/flyer to advertise the conference here

conference flyer.


Film showing at Edinburgh World Justice Festival

2018-07-19 08.57.05Just Transitions: Employment, Energy and Environment

Friday 12th October, 7.30pm Augustine United Church, George 4th Bridge, Edinburgh

Showing of the REEL News film, Just Transitions, followed by discussion