The UK Committee on Climate Change has reported that the 8.6% reduction in carbon emissions last year was mostly due to the economic downturn, with only a small fraction being a consequence of green policies

This suggests the current approach to tackling climate change is flawed. A failure to retain construction skills and capacity could hamper the low-carbon vision even further.

As they start to expand, low-carbon industries like renewables will rely heavily on the construction sector to build the core infrastructure that will make them a success.

But with many jobs recently lost from the construction industry, the challenge over the next five years will be to rebuild capacity so the industry is in a position to meet that future demand - otherwise, we could see contractor prices spike, driving up costs and making Scotland a less attractive place for low-carbon industries to invest.

In the short term, we must invest more in greening the built environment. While reducing carbon emissions in its own right, this would also ensure that construction workers remain employed in the industry, developing the green skills they will need in the longer term to help new low-carbon industries achieve their potential.

Michael Levack, chief executive, Scottish Building Federation