Just Transition Commission minutes: December 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on at 9 December 2022.

Attendees and apologies

Commission attendees

  • Jim Skea, Chair
  • Richard Hardy, Prospect
  • Nick Robins, Grantham Research Institute, LSE
  • Rachel McEwen, SSE
  • Ameena Camps, Net Zero Scotland
  • Lang Banks,WWF
  • Ann Pettifor, Economist, Policy Research in Macroeconomics
  • Ronne Quinn, NECCUS
  • Jake Molloy, RMT
  • Satwat Rehman, One Parent Families Scotland

Secretariat attendees

  • Elliot Ross
  • Lauren Begbie
  • Shona Ann Kinnear


  • Colette Cohen, Net Zero Technology Centre
  • Elaine Dougall, Unite/STUC
  • Katie Gallogly-Swan, UN Conference on Trade and Development

Guest for agenda

  • Katie Phair, Head Just Transition Policy Unit, Scottish Government
  • Melanie Macrae, Team Leader, Whole Systems and Technical Policy Unit Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The Chair welcomed Commissioners, noting apologies received from members unable to attend. The agenda for the meeting was reviewed and apologies made for cancellation of strategy meeting scheduled in November due to connectivity issues at COP27 in Egypt. 

Sharing/publication of the draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan (ESJTP) having encountered delays, the Commission was advised it would instead receive updates during the first part of the meeting from Scottish Government officials on the proposed sectoral plans for next year, Project Neptune and a high level overview of the prospective contents of the draft ESJTP.

Commissioners noted and briefly discussed the recent Committee on Climate Change report on Scotland’s progress on emissions reduction. The Secretariat advised a response to the Chair’s letter of November 2 to the Minister for Just Transition, Economy and Fair Work could be expected shortly.

Forward look – just transition planning brief, Project Neptune, ESJTP

Katie Phair, Just Transition Policy Unit, joined the meeting and briefed the Commission on the latest outlook for the development of sectoral just transition plans during 2023 as well as Project Ninian. 

The session began with a high level overview of Project Ninian, a project commissioned by the Scottish Government to analyse the oil and gas sector and various potential impacts of decarbonisation policy. The final output is likely to include consideration of current and future production in the industry, export, future workforce numbers and GVA. It is expected that the findings will be published early 2023. It was noted that findings in Ninian have informed areas of the ESJTP.

The commission acknowledged the helpfulness of this project on the broader Energy landscape and that it was the first time this level of analysis had been carried out in regard to Scotland specifically. The question was posed whether this level of “deep dive” analysis be incorporated into other sectors in support of Just Transition Planning work across the board and it was noted that this is currently under review.

The Q and A session addressed figures highlighted within the report, its methodology, the issue of skills and the definition of relevant sectoral jobs, and there was further discussion on the issue of job security and the cancellation of contracts for workers on the Neart Na Gaoithe project. 

The next part of the session began with a brief on the evolution to “skeleton” plans for the next set of sectorial Just Transition Plans, Agriculture and land use, Buildings and construction, Transport due in the first half of 2023. It was noted that these plans are very different in their structure by comparison to the ESJTP and should accommodate enhanced engagement and input.

It was agreed that although the Just Transition Fund is not an explicit part of the Commission’s remit, officials would seek to agree with the Secretariat a schedule for sharing regular updates on the Fund and that advice from the Commission regarding the approach to the Fund, including criteria and work on monitoring and measuring outputs.

Melanie Macrae, Whole Systems and Technical Policy Unit, joined to present a high level overview of progress towards the ESJTP draft. It is expected the plan will publish early in the new year along with an accessible version.

The Commission unanimously agreed that the session constituted a briefing rather than consultation, and that it was important the meeting was not characterised, either publicly or internally, as consultation of the Commission on the ESJTP.

Questions raised by members focused on how progress could be made on critical reserved matters, how costs and benefits would be distributed fairly, the role of local authorities in development and delivery of plans, plans for an accessible version of the document to be published, consideration of the potential role and contribution of a publicly owned energy company. The Commission requested further information and clarity on this, including as it relates to ongoing plans in Wales.

The Commission referred to the recent CCC report and echoed their findings in regard to urgency, pace and scale of policy delivery in the energy sector for 2030 targets to be met. 

Closed session 

At the Chair’s request the Secretariat provided an overview of the recent CCC report on emissions reductions in Scotland, highlighting aspects that touched most directly on the just transition agenda. Concerns were raised regarding the potential difficulty of providing scrutiny and advice on the justice and fairness elements of decarbonisation policy unless progress and clarity on the delivery of emissions reductions was accelerated.

The Commission discussed concerns regarding the high-level content of the ESJTP draft, including the need for proposals that would match the requisite urgency, pace and scale of the delivery challenge. There was also discussion of the need for the role of the Commission in relation to the development of such plans to be clarified and a shared understanding agreed in order that the Commission’s role as a vehicle for expert input and consensus-building across different constituencies represented could be made best use of, in order to safeguard continued participation from Commissioners.

The Commission agreed that the Chair would write to the Minister to share their concerns in terms of both substantive policy as well as the Commission’s role and the process by which it is consulted. It was agreed this would be followed by a statement from the Commission in early 2023 to address key elements of just transition planning work, including on Energy.

Private session – workplan and strategy

The purpose of the session was to review the Commission’s strategic approach, ways of working and draft work plan for 2023, in advance of receiving the annual letter from the Minister for Just Transition, Employability and Fair Work advising the Commission of relevant planned government work.

The Commission found broad agreement on the need for a revised approach to major meetings and site visits, including the role of working groups in informing the inputs and design for these, the value of quality policy briefs as interim outputs for publication, as well as the role of the Commission in setting the agenda on just transition work as well as providing advice on the development of the Scottish Government’s just transition planning work. The breadth of areas and issues requiring to be addressed was considered the major challenge and the need to prioritise areas of key focus and protect Commissioners’ time as much as possible was acknowledged as part of efforts to ensure the Commission’s “bandwidth” is used as effectively as possible in delivering against its remit.

There was agreement that working groups should have Terms of Reference drafted by the Secretariat to clarify expectations for ways of working, timescales and deliverables. It was also agreed that Commissioners will review proposed speakers at future meetings in advance of agendas being finalized, and that there should be a greater emphasis on engagement at community level with relevant groups, particularly those hardest to reach and most likely to be impacted by the economic transition.

The Commission deliberated on whether meetings should take a sectoral theme as their major focus, or be place-based in order to cover a wider variety of themes through the lens of place. Full consensus on this point was not achieved, however a compromise did find broad agreement that the schedule for 2023 will address sectoral themes primarily, but that from 2024 there would be a greater emphasis on a place-based approach to engagement, information and evidence gathering work. 

There was discussion on the cross cutting themes of finance, engagement, equalities and participation, monitoring and evaluation and how these could be progressed. 

The commission also discussed wider stakeholder engagement and possible partnership opportunities, with public bodies, community organisations and various committees. There was potential for information sharing and preventing duplication of effort. There was note by some commissioners of the need for a younger voice to be heard within the commission and the value of exploring different options for achieving this. 

There was an update on membership, with a number of the Commission’s original membership having stepped down, or moved to working group level. The secretariat are undertaking a skills audit at the request of the Chair to identify specific areas where the Commission would benefit from additional specialist expertise. 

Meeting ends


  • secretariat to liaise with SG colleagues regarding response from Minister to letter from Chair and July report
  • send new letter from Chair to Minister
  • secretariat to liaise with SG officials regarding Just Transition Fund and agree role of Commission in reviewing updates and approach
  • secretariat to aid Commission in production of statement on Just Transition planning work early 2023
  • secretariat to update work plan for 2023 and 2024
  • secretariat to finalise MoU with SG for Commission review and sign-off
  • progress new appointments and skills audit for working group additions
  • arrange for finance working group to meet with officials to discuss plans for an event on just transition finance in 2023
  • secretariat to liaise with officials regarding Overseas Employment Scheme extension
  • secretariat to liaise with officials regarding update on option of public energy company
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