82 civil society organisations from across different sectors of Scottish life have written to the First Minister calling for a radical response to the coronavirus recovery that puts people before profit.

The groups highlight how the double crises of coronavirus and climate change are exposing and worsening deeply damaging inequalities within society, and are calling on the First Minister to ensure the recovery builds a fairer society for all.

The signatories from charities, trade unions and community groups set out 5 steps for the forthcoming recovery plan and economic stimulus that will enable the building of a fairer, greener and more equal society.

The First Minister
The Scottish Government
St Andrew’s House
Regent Road
Edinburgh EH1 3DG

Dear First Minister,

Scotland’s Just and Green Recovery from COVID-19

Representing a broad range of Scotland’s civil society, our organisations wish to meet with you to discuss our emerging vision of how Scotland can lead a radical response to the double crises of climate change and Coronavirus.

Across the world, communities, institutions and governments are engaged in an unprecedented global effort to save lives and protect the most vulnerable.

As Coronavirus and climate chaos tear apart people’s lives globally we are seeing pre-existing inequalities laid bare and exacerbated, as the poorest suffer worst.

Massive upheaval to people’s daily lives is our present reality and immediate future. Yet a simple return to business as usual is both unrealistic and undesirable.

As Scotland moves past a peak of infections our attention is turning to what comes next.

You have stated the need for a recovery that cuts climate emissions by “building a fairer, greener and more equal society”, an aim that we strongly agree with.

The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare how inequality is lethal to human life, but it has also shone a light on acts of solidarity and cooperation and centred the vital role of public services, key workers and unpaid carers. Amidst a global threat to human rights and democracy, this crisis has also brought forward the possibility of an economic revival that ensures resilience to future crises, including the climate emergency.

The recovery from Coronavirus is a rare chance to markedly accelerate the repurposing of government away from the prioritisation of economic growth and towards goals of wellbeing and sustainability, ending inequality and environmental destruction. This is a time for system change.

These are the steps we believe must be followed to deliver a just and green recovery:

  1. Provide essential public services for people, not profit. Expand public ownership of public services and boost investment, including in social care, strengthen the NHS and cradle-to-grave education, and create zero-carbon social and cooperative housing instead of buy-to-let.
  2. Protect marginalised people and those on low incomes by redistributing wealth. Provide adequate incomes for all instead of bailouts for shareholders, significantly raise taxes on the wealthy, ensure all public workers receive at least the real Living Wage and strengthen health, safety and workers’ rights, including access to flexible home working. Investigate and mitigate the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 and social distancing on women, children and young people, disabled people, LGBTI people, people of colour, key workers, unpaid carers, private renters, and those on lower incomes.
  3. Provide new funds to transform our society and economy to meet Scotland’s Fair Share of climate emissions cuts and greatly enhance biodiversity. Create and protect jobs in sustainable travel, renewable heat, affordable local food and energy efficiency, with ambitious green employment opportunities for young people and support for retraining where whole industries are affected. Put measures in place to ensure all government programmes tackle inequality, public health and the just transition away from fossil fuels, excluding rogue employers, tax avoiders, major polluters and arms manufacturers from bailouts.
  4. Strengthen democracy and human rights during these crises. Withdraw new police powers, surveillance measures and restrictions on protest as soon as possible. Enable full scrutiny of planning and policy decisions. Create an independent Recovery Commission founded on participatory democracy to engage and empower communities, trade unions and civil society. Introduce fundamental human rights into Scots law so that safety nets are always in place for the most vulnerable.
  5. Offer solidarity across borders by proactively supporting an international Coronavirus and climate emergency response that challenges the scapegoating of migrants, centres on the worst affected, bolsters global public health, development and environmental bodies, and ensures equitable access to COVID-19 treatment. Use the UN climate talks in Glasgow to push for robust implementation of the Paris deal, platforming the voices of indigenous and frontline communities and advancing climate finance and global debt cancellation. Ensure coherence between all domestic policy and global sustainable development outcomes.

Decisions made in times of crisis have long-lasting consequences. After the 2008 financial crisis, inequality grew and climate emissions spiralled. We want to see this moment seized for the common good, not repeat the mistakes of the past.

Civil society has a central role to play in helping to shape Scotland’s future in this unprecedented time. We look forward to meeting with you to address how we can realise a truly just and green recovery.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Stuart – Director, Aberdeen Climate Action

Almuth Ernsting – Co-Director, Biofuelwatch

Susan Matthews – Convenor, Cairngorms Campaign

Zarina Ahmad – Climate Change and Environment Officer, CEMVO

Jackie Brock – CEO, Children in Scotland

Sally Foster-Fulton – Head of Christian Aid Scotland, Christian Aid

The Very Rev Dr Susan Brown – Convener, Faith Impact Forum, Church of Scotland

Representatives – Climate Camp Scotland

Claire Williams – Director, Cloudberry Communities CIC

Robin McAlpine – Director, Common Weal

Craig Anderson – Regional Secretary – Scotland, Communication Workers Union (CWU)

Nick Gubbins – Chief Executive, Community Energy Scotland

Dr Benjamin Twist – Director, Creative Carbon Scotland

Isla Scott – Divest Strathclyde

Linda Pearson – Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland

Jo Gibb – Steering group member , East Linton Melting Pot

Mary Sweetland – Chairperson, Eco-Congregation Scotland

Foysol Choudhury MBE – Chair, Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council

Bill Ramsay – President, EiS

Zarina Ahmad – Climate Change and Environment Officer, EMEN

Yolanda Cowen – Extinction Rebellion Aberdeen

Representatives, Extinction Rebellion Scotland

Nick Cullen – Director, Food for Good coalition

Dr Richard Dixon – Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland

May East – CEO, Gaia Education

Ellie Harrison – Chair, Get Glasgow Moving

Scott Tully – Glasgow Calls Out Polluters

Representatives – Glasgow Mutual Aid

Liz Murray – Head of Scottish campaigns, Global Justice Now

Hannah Martin – Co-Exec Director, Green New Deal UK

Representatives – Halo Trust

Alison Lomax – Director, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

Anne Thomas – Secretary, Highland Cycle Campaign

Simon Anderson – Senior Fellow, IIED

Professor Gregor Gall – Director, Jimmy Reid Foundation

Anne Funnemark – Campaign Director (interim) , Jubilee Scotland

Roz Corbett – Policy Officer, Landworkers Alliance

Sonja Coquelin – Chair, Living Rent

Deirdre Duff – Climate Campaigner, Medact

Morag Watson – Director, Natural Change

Pete Ritchie – Director, Nourish Scotland

Liam McCabe – President, NUS Scotland

Anthony Johnson – Lead Advisor, Nurses United UK

Mrs Nicky Bull – Chair of Trustees, Operation Noah

Jamie Livingstone – Head of Oxfam Scotland, Oxfam Scotland

Maddison Bromfield – Co-president, People and Planet Society Edinburgh

Sue Laughlin – People’s Health Movement Scotland

Clare Symonds – Chair, Planning Democracy

Gabrielle Jeliazkov – Lead Campaigner – Just Transition in the North Sea, Platform

Peter Kelly – Director, Poverty Alliance

Joshua Msika – Convenor, Prospect James Hutton Institute Branch

Lauren MacCallum – General Manager , Protect Our Winters UK

Elizabeth Allen – Clerk to General Meeting for Scotland, Quakers in Scotland

Max Wiszniewski – Campaign Manager, Revive: the coalition for grouse moor reform

Mike Robinson – Chief Executive, Royal Scottish Geographical Society

Alistair Dutton – Director, Scottish Catholic International Aid Foundation

Professor Gregor Gall – Editor, Scottish Left Review

Pete Cannell – Convenor, Scot.E3

Jane Salmonson – Director, Scotland’s International Development Alliance

Lynn Jamieson – Chair, Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Philip Revell – Convenor, Scottish Communities Climate Action Network

Angus Hardie – Director, Scottish Community Alliance

Fiona Garven – Director, Scottish Community Development Centre

Most Reverend Mark Strange – Primus, Scottish Episcopal Church

Logan Steele – Communications Secretary , Scottish Raptor Study Group

Janet Fenton – Organiser, Secure Scotland

Martha Myers – Zero Waste Hub Coordinator, SHRUB

Ben Carpenter – CEO, Social Value UK

Jo McNamara – Chair, Sustaining Dunbar

Representatives – Scottish Youth Climate Strike

Robert Palmer – Executive Director, Tax Justice UK

Graeme McMeekin – Acting Director, Tearfund Scotland

Cathy Ratcliff – Partnerships Director , Thrive

Anne Thomas – Director, Transition Black Isle

David Somervell – Convener, Transition Edinburgh

Olga Bloemen – Co-Director, Tripod: Training for Creative Social Action

Carlo Morelli & Lena Wånggren – Scotland president & Scotland vice-president, UCU

Lilian Macer – Convenor, UNISON Scotland

Dr Nick Hepworth – Director, Water Witness International

Cat Hobbs – Director and Founder, We Own It

Dr Gemma Bone Dodds – Trustee WEALL Scotland

Sarah Dolman – Policy manager, Whale and Dolphin Conservation

Catrina Randall – Network coordinator, Young Friends of the Earth Scotland