Skip to content

Further advice on the draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan

Published on
14 Apr 2023
Publication Type
wind turbine

Further advice on the draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan

Letter from Chair of Just Transition Commission to the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition

Download Publication
(PDF, 240 KB)

Click above to download the Commission’s detailed advice on the Scottish Government’s draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan. This piece of advice focuses on the fairness considerations of these proposals, strategic risks and recommended actions for the Scottish Government in revising the plan. In considering its advice, the Commission held a series of roundtable discussions themed around equity, environment, business and industry. High-level ‘readouts’ of these meetings are appended under Annex C in the file above.

Key messages:

  • Justice – further work is required to ensure the plan for Scotland’s energy transition will deliver on just transition principles, including the equitable sharing of costs and benefits, fair work as a core strategic objective, and careful strategic use of public finance and procurement mechanisms to create true and lasting value for workers, citizens and communities.
  • Demand – the current strategy is weighted to the supply-side and could be more balanced in terms of the demand-side and the gains that can be delivered, both in terms of decarbonisation and justice, taking a broader view of the entire energy system and its relationship with the whole economy to maximise the economic, social and environmental up-side of our energy transition
  • Materiality – to make Scotland’s energy transition tangible, the strategy should map out with as much precision as possible what workforce and skills will be required and where to support the enormous expansion of infrastructure that will be required (particularly in construction), the materials needed, as well as the changes to Scotland in terms of our landscapes, marine environment and scenery. This heightened sense of a material change underway will support strategic clarity and help make the plan accessible by supporting public and institutional understanding of key changes and enabling wider participation in strategic decision-making.
  • Co-operation and co-ordination – the Scottish Government must use its competencies and capacity as effectively as possible to catalyse the energy transition and ensure justice is embedded as the core strategic objective of the net-zero transformation. Clarity and credibility will be key to making the most of this leadership function, as will a strong plan for effective collaboration with the UK Government, other devolved authorities and local government. Previous experience of industrial change has shown that governments leaving progress solely to the market and failing to lead and engage in change, will result in unjust outcomes.

These further key messages on the draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan are intended to sit alongside those shared in the Commission’s initial high-level advice published in February[link to relevant page]. These are as follows:

  • Inequalities – Sectoral Just Transition Plans should begin with an assessment of the current ‘state of the sector’. This should document in plain terms existing inequalities within a given sector (including those related to income, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, age, and regional disparities including remote, rural and island areas) and identify the key systemic factors contributing to these inequalities. Each plan should seek to redress these as a core strategic objective, as well as setting out realistic and achievable actions towards the delivery of fair outcomes.
  • Equity – A just transition approach requires that the costs and benefits of transition be shared equitably. To demonstrate this, Just Transition Plans should map out clearly what the costs and benefits are, who will benefit, who is vulnerable to negative impacts and what these are, who will pay more for the transition and which groups will pay less.
  • Fair work – Fair work considerations must be a central and explicit focus of all Just Transition Plans. Many of the new jobs required by our Energy transition will be in construction, and there is a risk local communities may not enjoy the full benefit of this unless a stable and settled workforce can be created within the areas where this work needs to occur.
  • Engagement – Just Transition Plans should demonstrate how they have been shaped by engagement and co-design processes by documenting where this work has had a material impact on the plan, whether in terms of objectives, approach, actions or scope.
  • Accessibility – Just Transition Plans must be accessible to everyone whose lives and livelihoods are likely to be impacted by the transition to Net Zero. The principles, decisions, aims, actions, costs and benefits of these plans should be expressed in a way that a non-specialist can understand. This is a minimal requirement to enable meaningful engagement, consultation and co-design.
  • Scale/Quantification – The structure of Just Transition Plans should reflect the comparative scale attached to different elements of the strategy in terms of their importance to delivering a just transition.
  • Risk management – Just Transition Plans should as a matter of course include a detailed and credible assessment of key risks to strategic delivery as well as actions to mitigate these risks. One key risk to the delivery of the energy transition, for example, is workforce capacity. A step change is needed if Scotland is to have the skills required to build a low carbon energy sector, both in terms of supply and demand, and to enjoy the associated benefits.
  • Road maps – Road maps are a critical tool in the development of credible Just Transition Plans. These should be detailed and thorough, mapping interdependencies between actions and outcomes, and providing a critical path analysis that includes a realistic assessment of institutional capacity and other key constraints. As Commission members have previously engaged in strategic road-mapping activity, we will contact your civil servants with a more detailed account of what we believe to be needed.
  • Finance and investment – All forms of finance in Scotland need to support a just transition, with a vanguard role for public finance, with private finance implementing clear just transition standards, and a real opportunity for Scotland to lead the way in community finance for a just transition. This needs to come together in the investment prospectus.
  • Mainstreaming – A ‘standalone’ format for Just Transition Plans may be an effective approach to maintain a clear focus on the action plan to achieve fairness, how progress will be assessed, and key risks. Just transition considerations must in any case be core to all sectoral strategies covering the transition to Net Zero.

More Publications