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Just Transition

Just transition to net zero requires decisive action by Scottish Government

Satwat Rehman and Professor Dave Reay
Published on
13 Dec 2023

Co-Chairs Satwat Rehman and Professor Dave Reay write in the Scotsman

The climate emergency afflicts the poorest and most marginalised worst of all, exacerbating existing inequalities. We need bold and innovative action to build genuine social and economic resilience in place of a status quo that is deeply unjust, as the number of people in fuel poverty and ongoing cost of living crisis shows.

Scotland’s approach to just transition now faces an early litmus test, with potential redundancies at Grangemouth as well as offshore. Can the right plans be put in place to ensure workers and communities are protected? If so, this would send a crucial signal that Scotland means business and won’t allow the harms of previous unmanaged industrial transitions to be repeated.

A big message from our report today is that the difficult conversations about changes needed to reduce our emissions must happen right now, so that we start to build a deep and shared understanding of what exactly this transition involves and how its costs and benefits are being shared fairly. Without this there’s a real risk that misinformation, fostered by uncertainty and delay, will make it much harder to make the changes that need to happen in terms of how we work, move around, the food we eat, how we heat our homes.

Next year we should have a much more detailed picture on what the just transition will mean in practice across four core economic sectors that touch on all of our lives: energy, transport, the built environment and agriculture.

The challenge policymakers have taken on by making just transition a national mission for Scotland is one of unprecedented scale, complexity and duration. The need for significant short-medium term investment and detailed planning to secure long term benefits and savings is also distinctive within our recent politics, that has usually operated against much shorter time horizons. Cross-party support in meeting this challenge, particularly now as we may be entering a period of political change, will be invaluable to people across Scotland whose lives and livelihoods stand to be shaped by the course of our transition to a low carbon economy over the years ahead.

Scotland has rightly established an international reputation for our approach to just transition. Now it is time to justify that recognition with decisive action and delivery. The Commission will keep working constructively and collaboratively with the Scottish Government, providing independent scrutiny and advice and helping to build consensus on the toughest challenges.

The full article features in The Scotsman on the 13th December 2023