The report calls on the Scottish Government to “define the landing zone” for farmers, workers, land managers and rural communities to allow for long term planning geared towards new, more sustainable business models. Today’s report highlights the risk that delays to tough conversations could encourage the spread of misinformation and resistance to necessary changes.
The Commission says there is a particular risk where long term uncertainty is allowed to persist regarding changes that “will make some of today’s livelihoods unviable, including some that are deeply culturally embedded.”
“Currently many farmers describe a ‘communications vacuum’” says the report. “Prolonged ambiguity and uncertainty encourage information gaps and misinformation to take hold, including key myths, blockers and talking points that encourage hostility to change and resistance to innovation and reskilling. These need to be recognised, analysed and addressed through communication from trusted figures within the community who can speak credibly to businesses and producers who report feeling demonised, disempowered, lacking agency and blamed for climate change despite compliance with previous arrangements.”
The Commission’s report calls for stronger mechanisms to ensure Scotland’s landscapes and natural assets benefit local communities and help to fund social and economic needs in rural areas. It stresses there needs to be much more affordable housing in rural areas to allow major programmes of work such as the restoration of the country’s peatlands to store carbon.
Agriculture is the third largest source of Greenhouse Gas (GhG) emissions in Scotland. In 2020, agriculture represented 18% of Scotland’s emissions.
“Effective communication and meaningful engagement on a just transition for this sector will not be possible unless the key elements of what contributing to the Scottish Government’s net zero and nature restoration commitments means for this sector are honestly defined with far greater specificity,” says the report.
The report’s key messages are:
- Define the “landing zone” now. Farmers and land managers need much more clarity on the changes within this sector to reduce emissions.
- Delays to difficult and honest conversations about are a just transition risk.
- Build trust through redistribution and action to lock in value to local communities.
The independent expert advisory group advises the Scottish Government on how the country can achieve a carbon neutral economy fairly.
Members drawn from industry, business and finance, trade unions, environmental and community groups, and academia serve on the Commission. They provide expert scrutiny and advice on a series of just transition plans that cover different regions and sectors of Scotland’s economy.
Last month, the Commission’s Chair, Dundonian climate scientist Prof. Jim Skea CBE was elected to lead the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the high-profile United Nations body whose reports have played a key role in shaping global understanding of the climate emergency over the past 30 years.
On Monday Skea announced he will step down from his role as Chair of the Just Transition Commission, with a successor to be announced in the coming weeks.