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Just transition to Net Zero 2045 must start now

27th February 2020

An independent commission set up to advise the Scottish Government on how to manage a fair transition to net-zero emissions in Scotland has published its interim report, emphasising the need for Government to take immediate action to secure a ‘just transition’ for Scotland.

Among the twelve initial recommendations outlined in the report, the Just Transition Commission (JTC) is calling for support to secure a fair transition for the agriculture and oil and gas sectors, and for climate emergency to be at the heart of spending decisions.

The scale of the challenge related to the transition to low-carbon heating is also recognised in the report as it calls on the government to ensure lessons are learned from decarbonisation of electricity and to set out the policy mechanisms that will help secure economic opportunities for Scotland and a fair distribution of costs during this transition.

Members of the public and businesses are also being encouraged to offer their insights by submitting their evidence to the Commission by 28 May. The evidence submitted will help inform the full report scheduled to be submitted to the Scottish Government in January 2021.  

The interim report was requested by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform and will help inform the update to the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan, scheduled to be published in April.

It outlines early steps to be undertaken to help ensure Scotland maximises the opportunities of the transition to net zero, while also mitigating against the risks and protecting the industries, workers, consumers and communities who may be impacted. It sets out three emerging themes from JTC’s work to date:

The need for Government to develop clear sector transition plans in collaboration with industry, workers and communities.

The need for broad social dialogue to understand and account for the legitimate concerns of stakeholders in relation to climate change, and make sure they are reflected in policy making.
The need to place equity considerations (such as questions of ‘who pays’ and ‘who benefits’) at the centre of climate change policy.

In addition to this it also sets out twelve initial recommendations for Government, covering areas such as skills, fair work, domestic heating, agriculture and oil and gas. The JTC is calling for immediate Government action in the year ahead, recognising the unique opportunity posed by COP 26 in Glasgow to demonstrate Scotland’s leadership in this area.

Professor Jim Skea was appointed Chair of the Just Transition Commission in September 2018.

He said: “The promise of a just transition is that governments design policies in a way that ensures the benefits of climate change action are shared widely, while the costs do not unfairly burden those least able to pay, or whose livelihoods are directly or indirectly at risk as the economy shifts and changes.

“The next phase of Scotland’s fight against climate change will have a much more visible impact on people’s day-to-day lives. This will bring significant opportunities, but also inevitably challenges which must be managed by the Scottish Government. It is imperative that we ensure fairness and a just transition for all as we move into this next phase if we are to have any hope of ending our contribution to climate change.

“Although there are numerous challenges ahead, our work over the last year has also identified many opportunities. By committing to a just transition we can provide an opportunity to address existing inequalities while taking action to ensure that new ones do not develop.”

He added: “We cannot fully understand, let alone address, the just transition challenge unless people get a chance to have their say. As we move into the second year of our work, we want to encourage input from everyone with an interest in finding a fair transition to net-zero.”

Businesses and members of the public are encouraged to submit their evidence to the Just Transition Commission by post and email. The form and instructions can be found on the website https://www.gov.scot/groups/just-transition-commission/

The full interim report can be found here – https://www.gov.scot/publications/