Without a radical transformation of our economy, we face climate breakdown. While the Scottish Government has set demanding climate and energy targets, plans to deliver them don’t do enough to ensure that no-one is left behind as we move to a fossil free economy.
In fact, much of our progress in reducing emissions has been as a result of de-industrialisation, and policies to deliver the zero-carbon economy have failed to realise the full potential of creating new, decent work in Scotland.
If the transition continues to be left to market forces, we risk a repeat of the devastating social dislocation and high unemployment experienced as a result of de-industrialisation and coal mine closures.
The importance of planning this transition
To get this crucial, economy-and-society-wide transition right, people all over Scotland need to be deeply involved in the planning for how their work, lives and communities are going to change. The impact of measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 on the economy, with a deep recession now looming, simply compounds this.
The economic recovery must be a Just and Green Recovery that promotes the growth of green industries, creating urgently-needed, quality opportunities for those who have lost their jobs and livelihoods during the pandemic as well as for those who will be impacted in the move to a fossil free economy.
The Just Transition Commission – set up by the Scottish Government last year following calls from STUC and FoES – has been tasked with advising Ministers on how to achieve Scotland’s climate targets in a way that is fair to all. The Commission has recently launched an Interim Report and alongside this issued a call for evidence to inform their work, closing on 30th June.
Crucially, the Interim Report emphasised that a Just Transition will not happen by accident and it must mean more than rhetoric. The Commission has been clear in stating that a Just Transition requires a comprehensive approach from Government with consistency across all Departments in reducing our emissions in a way that protects workers and communities while reshaping our economy in the interests of people and planet.
The importance of urgent planning and intervention to put us on the path to a Just Transition is brought into even sharper focus as we look to recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, with a deep global recession looming unless governments intervene effectively. The Scottish Government has written to the Commission for advice on how best to do this, so the present call for evidence is also a crucial chance to share with the Commission our vision and demands for a Just and Green Recovery from COVID-19.
Seize the moment to shape the transition
This call for evidence is a key opportunity for individuals, organisations and groups across the country to get their voices heard about what needs to happen for a truly just transition to a zero carbon economy that is fair for all.
This is particularly important for workers or communities where the local economy relies heavily on fossil fuel industries, but the scale of change necessary to tackle the climate crisis is such that it will have an impact on everyone.
In the process we can transform our economy in terms of who it serves and what we prioritise, putting people and the planet above corporate interests. This is a rare moment – we must seize it!
The Just Transition Commission wants to hear from people, organisations and businesses across Scotland on their views of what a successful Just Transition would look like and who is likely to be most impacted by the move to a zero carbon economy. Below you can read our priorities as well as additional resources to help you in preparing to respond.
Our priorities for a Just Transition
We have been campaigning with our trade union allies in the Just Transition Partnership since 2017. Based on this work, our key priorities for a Just Transition that we want the Commission to take on board are:
- The transition must happen at the pace necessary to meet international climate obligations, delivering climate justice for those hit the worst and first by climate breakdown;
- A well-managed energy transformation based on Just Transition principles can meet climate commitments with job creation in clean energy industries exceeding affected oil and gas jobs more than threefold;
- Current measures are not delivering the pace of change needed to meet climate change targets and there is an urgent need for far more consistency in approach from Government and its agencies to deliver our Fair Share of climate action;
- Action to cut emissions has so far also failed to deliver promised benefits to people in Scotland undermining support for further action. A step change in approach is needed with a far greater role for the Government including expanded public ownership.
- 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.
- New jobs for a high skill, high wage and zero carbon economy are needed for those leaving old, polluting jobs to move into but there is no sign yet of the strategic support, intervention and investment needed to realise this.
- A Just Transition approach which is able to protect workers, while ensuring a fairer spread of the economic benefits, must anticipate changes in the labour market and put in place strategic skills development and retraining programmes.
- Just Transition Plans must be put in place for all industrial sectors, deepening democratic participation in decision making through the participation of workers and trade unions. These should be a condition of all government support to private companies and delivered by the actions of all public agencies
- The workers and communities likely to be most impacted must be engaged deeply in the decisions affecting their livelihoods. Planning must involve those people as well as trade unions and environmentalists to ensure the pace and focus needed.
- There must be a far greater role for a Publicly Owned Energy Company (POEC) than that currently proposed by the Scottish Government. Rather than becoming just another retail supplier of energy, it should have a role across the energy network; creating new renewables projects, prioritising domestic supply chains and enabling local and regional energy ownership too.
- Scotland’s National Investment Bank should be connected with the POEC to provide critically needed investment. More widely, the Bank’s patient, long-term lending should be concentrated on delivering the just transition to zero carbon, and creating decent work in the green economy across Scotland.
Take this opportunity to get your voice heard by following this link.
The deadline to respond is Tuesday 30th June!
There are six questions in the consultation but you do not need to answer every one. If you want to submit your thoughts then you could focus on Questions 3 & 4 to say what a Just Transition would look like in your opinion and what the Scottish Government should be doing to make it happen
Additional resources to help you respond to the call for evidence:
- Just and Green Recovery Letter to the First Minister, signed by 82 different civil society organisations. https://foe.scot/resource/just-green-recovery-letter-first-minister/
- Friends of the Earth Scotland, Platform and Oil Change International, Sea Change: Climate Emergency, Jobs and Managing the Phase-Out of UK Oil and Gas Extraction
- STUC, Broken Promises and Offshored Jobs
- Just Transition Partnership briefing: The Just Transition Challenge in Scotland
- Just Transition Partnership briefing: Publicly Owned Energy Company
- Just Transition Partnership briefing: Paving the Way for a Just Transition